Thursday, June 30, 2016

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is why I read historical fiction. Ruta Sepetys has taken a historical event I've never heard of, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, and connected me to it forever. After finishing the book, I searched out more information about the tragedy. This is exactly what teachers want readers to do-- be inspired to learn more.

Told from the perspectives of four teenagers, the novel gives various reasons why they are on the run from the Nazis and eager to board the ship. At first, it was a challenge to keep track of the back stories of each character, but then I was totally hooked and eager to find out their fates. Once I figured out that the fate of the Wilhelm Gustloff wasn't good, I decided not to look up the tragedy and learn about it in real time. I was horrified to learn that over 10,000 people were packed onto a ship built for 1,500. Even if it wasn't torpedoed, the conditions on the ship would have been unimaginable.

I was totally engrossed, but don't know if teenagers would choose to read this independently. It would be a great addition to a unit on WWII or as a book club selection. It should be read because the tragedy of the Wilhelm Gustloff should not be ignored.

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