#1 Favorite (Tie): Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

Hi guys! I know what you’re thinking. “Kester hasn’t posted a review in forever! What has taken him so long?” Well, if you’d like to know, I’ve been busy with homework. As I write this (I’m writing this Friday night) I’m planning to write an essay on Animal Farm and do a video for FBLA. Now, the wait is finally over, and with a 4-day weekend, I’ll be catching up on some necessary reading, blogging, and reviewing! Enough talking, let’s get onto the review! And I love love love love love this book! It has changed my life!!!

Synopsis: 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.

Overall Thoughts: I didn’t think I’d find a book that would rival The United Continuums, but I did. This book is now tied with TUC as my favorite book of all time because it changed my life. This was the first book that has actually changed how I view the world, and that means that this book is special. Ruta Sepetys is such an amazing author! How do I love thee? By writing this review! (Did you get that reference?)

Writing Style (Pro): Ruta Sepetys uses a unique method of POVs: she makes each POV of each of the four characters one to four pages only. It was really effective. At times, I couldn’t put the book down, and reading a little bit from everyone’s point of view made the experience even better. Sepetys has a talent of making you sucked into the story. I loved how I actually became each character and sympathized with each one!

Characters (Pro): I loved the characters so much! They were all so flawed yet so beautiful, and I cried when certain events happened to certain people. But that’s not the main reason I love them. Each character has a secret or certain trait that is revealed at certain parts of the book, and it’s like opening up a surprise whenever I get to the unveiling point. For example, Alfred is something (no spoilers) and I didn’t realize what he was until Florian’s POV revealed it. His secret made all of his behaviors make sense! And I was like “Whoa!!!” It’s like We Were Liars, but even better!

Plot Twists (Pro): If you have read my past reviews, you know that I love plot twists. And there were so many of them in Salt to the Sea! At times, I had to literally stop for a few minutes to process everything that was going on. I was so shocked and dumbfounded that I was going “What?” for a while. Emilia’s made me so sad and shocked. Florian’s made me go “Oh my goodness!” Joana’s made me so surprised, and you have to read Between Shades of Gray to get it. Alfred’s made me go “That makes so much sense!” And now that I think of it, the author was so subtle with her hints and foreshadowing that everything makes so much sense. It really does. I can’t spoil anything, but every single thread is tied. Every single detail has to do something with one of their secrets.

Beginning (Con): When I started this book, I thought I wouldn’t like it as much as Between Shades of Gray. It began a bit weird for me, but the book proved me wrong. I started loving it so much that I couldn’t put it down at times. I think it’s better than BSOG. This is Ruta’s greatest work, in my opinion. It was so beautiful that I enjoyed it so much! The entire second two-thirds of the book definitely redeemed the book!

How It Changed My Life: I was reading this book at a time when I was struggling with a big burden of homework. I couldn’t handle it at times: It felt to me too much. This book made me realize that I have no right to complain. Why? Because there’s so many people in the world who are suffering a thousand times worse than me. I’m worrying about finishing a homework assignment while others are worrying about living until the next day. Those refugees in World War II endured so much pain, hunger, starvation, depression, sadness, etc. that it seems unreal. I cannot complain because I am not going through these things. If I am about to complain, I have to remember that people are doing much worse than me, The more I think about how blessed I am to have things like food to eat, water to drink, a bed to sleep in, tons of clothes, the more I will be grateful for the things in life. Thank you, Ruta, for changing my life.

Recommendation: I believe this is a book everyone should read. Please. Just please read it!

Also, today’s the second to last day of our giveaway for a copy of SAVING KENNEDY by J.L. Pattison! Go check out his guest post and giveaway here! And please remember to share out blog with as many other people as you can! We’re so close to hitting 100 WordPress followers, so please help us! Thanks so much!

Til next time! ~ Kester

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