Salt to the Sea

Publisher: Puffin

In 1945, the Second World War is drawing to a bloody end. For the German people and their surrounding allies, it is a time to flee from the approaching Russian army, whose terrifying reputation for rape and slaughter precede them.

Without food or possessions, a small group band together in an attempt to reach the boats taking civilians to safety. Among them are Joana, Florian and Emilia - a heavily pregnant 15-year-old Polish girl. Their cross-country trek is brutal and violent - but will the boat be any better?

This heart-breaking historical fiction highlights the devastation wrought by war on the lives of innocent civilians. Despite the divide in the group, the protagonists see no differences between themselves. They are all just desperate refugees searching for safety. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, allowing insight into their backgrounds and war-torn lives.

For this book, Sepetys exhaustively researched the devastating sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German evacuation ship, in which an estimated 9,000 people drowned. Her fictional account of this tragic event is brilliantly written and tremendously sad.

Winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017. 

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