Before I even start this week’s edition of Waiting on Wednesday, let me just say I love Ruta Sepetys. After falling in love with Between Shades of Gray years ago (to which I credit for allowing me to find my way back to historical fiction) I have eagerly anticipated each of her new releases, however few and far between they may be. I feel that after Sepetys went so above and beyond with Out of the Easy, I can confidently say that at this point I might as well write a gush review before I even begin Salt to the Sea next month. The writing will surely be beautiful in her lyrical way with words, the characters are bound to be perfectly flawed while still heart-breaking in their realness, and (as is her trademark) the setting is guaranteed justice with meticulous research and precision like detail. Case in point, I’m a little excited. For those of you not counting down the days on your calendar until February 2, the premise is one following a tragic World War II ship sinking I woefully never heard of; the Wilhelm Gustloff. The story follows in the aftermath of the Axis powers surrender, spurring millions to flee East Prussia for freedom. The aforementioned ship promises salvation for the few who can secure passage on it, which-surprise, surprise- includes our protagonists Joanna, Emilia, and Florian. Just as the promised land seems in their grasp tragedy strikes, forcing the three to cling together as a makeshift family in a time of dire survival. Sounds amazing, am I right? And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so as advanced reader reviews from award winning authors Maggie Stiefvater and Sabaa Tahir have come back nothing but stellar. If that’s not enough to sell it to you let me just say how perfect Sepetys storytelling is not only for avid readers but natural history buffs as well. She puts so much thought and effort into bringing much needed attention too oft-neglected moments in time that each of her books are like a mini history lesson in themselves- but from an exciting teacher brimming with knowledge and insight on her subject. Though I can’t personally relate to this, I know many fans were let down by Out of the Easy (an admittedly much different tale than Sepetys’s debut), but fear not as Salt to the Sea seems to return to the roots that put this amzing author on the map in the first place. It’s also been confirmed by Sepytys herself that main character Joanna is the same Joanna mentioned in passing during Between Shades of Gray as Lina’s cousin fleeing eastern Europe. Obviously that’s not enough to sell an entire book to me, but I love it when authors are able to tie their book universes togther by an interwoven thread. Nonetheless this is still a very different story, being told from four perspectives (two boys and two girls) as they battle a much more imminent threat of death. That writing tactic is a fine line indeed to walk, whereas it’s essential for readers to connect and sympathize with not just one but several important characters it can be difficult to flesh them all out in the manner necessary to achieve this perfect balance. If she can successfully pull it off though it’s a feat that won’t soon be forgotten as book award season rolls around looking for young adult novels to shortlist. Well, that’s about all I know right now, but as you can probably see it’s more than enough to sell the story hook, line, and sinker for me to auto-read. Let me know in the comments if you’ll be picking Salt to the Sea up next week, or be raiding the stacks for an entirely different new release.
-Keep Calm and Read On