1945, WWII. The area of East Prussia and Poland is between two fronts: on one side the German army and on the other the Russian one. The area is crossed by refugees who try to survive. The final goal is reaching the Gotenhafen port, in order to board one of the ship assigned to the rescue of civilians and wounded soldiers.
The author proposes different point of views from four young adults, Johana, a medical trainee from Lithuania, Florian, a german soldier, Emilia a fifteen years old from Poland and Alfred, a sailor working at the harbour for people evacuation. Reading four voices allows the reader to have a broader view on the historical situation in the east Europe (Poland oppressed by the two factions, the art thief by Nazis Germany,.. ) and multiple voices narrating the Wilhelm Gustloff’s tragic story, an event few know about, but dramatic for the amount of people involved.
Lots of WWII events are known by a minority, and this novel is able to fill some of this need for knowledge. The idea of alternating the protagonists’ voices and structuring the narration in short chapters give rhythm to the novel, the outcome is that the reader is more involved in History than in the single character’s story: it’s difficult to feel for characters we know a few about (or ones who seem quite suspicious).
By Ruta Septys I’ve read (and liked a lot), Out of the easy, that was set in 1950 New Orleans.
* Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys ★★★★☆
*I read this book in english