Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: Feb. 2, 2016, Philomel Books
My copy: Hardcover (bought at Barnes & Noble)
Summary: Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope. [Goodreads]
I wrote a mini-review of this book after I finished it last night on my Goodreads account (friend me!), but I loved it so much I just wanted to talk about it more. In my English class, we’re currently reading Ruta Sepetys’ debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, which I love. I just assume at this point that her books will be amazing, because she’s three for three. This book was INCREDIBLE. I N C R E D I B L E. Like, flipping pages super fast to know what happens, crying at the end incredible. And I’m not one to cry at the end of books, really. However, this book was so beautifully written and heart-wrenching, it felt like a punch to the heart.
The story is told in a very rare way: four narrators. Joana, Emilia, Florian, and Alfred. Joana, Emilia and Florian are all within the same group, although they are very different. Alfred works on the Wilhelm Gustloff, and all the stories come together more than halfway through the book as all the characters get on the ship. Each character has such a moving and unique voice, I just loved it! I can’t pick a favorite. It was so interesting to see all four of them change through different perspectives, especially the three who were together for basically the entirety of the book. Alfred had a very interesting narration style, mostly composed of mental letters to someone he used to know, as well as his opinions on the conflict going on during the time. The supporting characters were amazing as well, from the show poet to little Klaus, they all made the story even more real. (No pun intended by the gif, but it sure is fitting, huh?)
This book was so beautiful, from the plot to the true story to the characters, I would recommend it to anyone. Really, anyone. Fan of historical fiction? Read this book. Not a fan of historical fiction? Read this book. READ THIS BOOK (I’m very passionate about this book)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Favorite quote: “A woman grabbed my arm. ‘How much for the kid? They won’t let me on is I don’t have a kid.’ The wandering boy’s legs tightened on my shoulders. ‘He’s not for sale,’ I told her. ‘Everyone has a price,’ she said. ‘But clearly not everyone has a soul,’ said Poet, raising his walking stick to the woman. ‘Step away from the child.'”