This is a spoiler free review.
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.
I was so hesitant to start this book, because it has been so hyped up, but I really enjoyed it. This book follows 4 different characters, Florian, Emilia, Joana and Alfred. Each one of them coming from a different country and having their own hardships and secrets.
Usually, I’m not a fan of multiple point of views because often times it’s not done correctly. I always end up having a difficult time differentiating between the voices. However, I felt the multiple POV’s really added such a great element to the story. All four characters were so different from one another, and had their own personal story, and the multiple POV allowed me to experience this tragic event from different sides.
There were so many twists and turns through out this book. When I thought I had the characters all figured out, Ruta Sepetys proved me wrong. Even now that I am finished with this book, I feel that there were so much still left unspoken by the characters. The side characters also had so much personality that I found it hard not to care for them too. The shoe poet, Klaus and Ingrid were possibly my favorite side characters, I just wanted to hug them and tell them everything was going to be okay.
I learned a lot about WWII in school, however a lot of the time I just learned the American side of things (apart from the Holocaust). I knew this war affected all of Europe, but I never really knew how much loss and suffering all those poor people had to endure. And, I never knew about the ships and the refugees. When I read a book I put myself into the characters shoes, and I feel as if I’m the one taking the journey. So that being said, I couldn’t help but cry, especially towards the end of this book. I knew the ending couldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows, because the reality of this situation wasn’t for so many, but I’m still so devastated. The ending was definitely bittersweet.
I loved this book, the writing, the characters and how they all became connected, the fast paced plot. Just everything was so well done and I highly recommend this book to everyone. If you often cry in books then I don’t recommend reading this book in public and have lots of tissues near you, you will need them.
Have you read this book, if so, did you like it or dislike it ? Let me know!
Thanks for reading ❤