Ruta Sepetys Salt to the Sea

ISBN 13: 9780141347400

Salt to the Sea

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9780141347400: Salt to the Sea

"New York Times" Bestseller!"Masterly crafted" "The Wall Street Journal"
For readers of"Between Shades of Gray"and" All the Light We Cannot See," bestselling author Ruta Sepetysreturns to WWII in this epic novel thatshines a light on one of the war's most devastating yet unknown tragedies.
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide.Among them areJoana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to theship that promises salvation, the "Wilhelm Gustloff." Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other testedwith each step closer to safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Notcountry, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people adults and children alike aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning"All the Light We Cannot See," Erik Larson's"Dead Wake," and Elizabeth Wein's Printz Honor Book"Code Name Verity," this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the"Wilhelm Gustloff "the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in"Between Shades of Gray," Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.
Praise for"Salt to the Sea"
Featured on NPR's Morning Edition Superlative masterfully crafted [a] powerful work of historical fiction. "The Wall Street Journal " [Sepetys is] a master of YA fiction she once again anchors a panoramic view of epic tragedy in perspectives that feel deeply textured and immediate. "Entertainment Weekly ""Riveting...powerful...haunting." "The Washington Post " Compelling for both adult and teenage readers. "New York Times Book Review " Intimate, extraordinary, artfully crafted brilliant. "Shelf Awareness" "Historical fiction at its very, very best." "The Globe and Mail" "" [H]aunting, heartbreaking, hopeful and altogether gorgeous one of the best young-adult novels to appear in a very long time. "Salt Lake Tribune *""This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered." "Booklist" *"Artfully told and sensitively crafted...will leave readers weeping." "School Library Journal"
Praise for "Between Shades of Gray"
A" New York Times"Notable Book A"Wall Street Journal"Best Children s Book A"Publishers Weekly," "School Library Journal," "" Booklist"," and"" Kirkus""Best Book iTunes 2011 Rewind Best Teen Novel A Carnegie Medal andWilliam C. Morris Finalist A"New York Times"and InternationalBestseller Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both. "The Washington Post "*"[A]n important book that deserves the widest possible readership. "Booklist""

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About the Author:

Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. She is the award-winning, bestselling author of "Between Shades of Gray" and "Out of the Easy." Ruta lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter at @RutaSepetys.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

      

joana

Guilt is a hunter. 

My conscience mocked me, picking fights like a petulant child.

It’s all your fault, the voice whispered.

I quickened my pace and caught up with our small group. The Germans would march us off the field road if they found us. Roads were reserved for the military. Evacuation orders hadn’t been issued and anyone fleeing East Prussia was branded a deserter. But what did that matter? I became a deserter four years ago, when I fled from Lithuania.

Lithuania.

I had left in 1941. What was happening at home? Were the dreadful things whispered in the streets true?

We approached a mound on the side of the road. The small boy in front of me whimpered and pointed. He had joined us two days prior, just wandered out of the forest alone and quietly began following us.

“Hello, little one. How old are you?” I had asked. “Six,” he replied.

“Who are you traveling with?”

He paused and dropped his head. “My Omi.”

I turned toward the woods to see if his grandmother had emerged. “Where is your Omi now?” I asked.

The wandering boy looked up at me, his pale eyes wide. “She didn’t wake up.”

So the little boy traveled with us, often drifting just slightly ahead or behind. And now he stood, pointing to a flap of dark wool beneath a meringue of snow.

I waved the group onward and when everyone advanced I ran to the snow-covered heap. The wind lifted a layer of icy flakes revealing the dead blue face of a woman, probably in her twenties. Her mouth and eyes were hinged open, fixed in fear. I dug through her iced pockets, but they had already been picked. In the lining of her jacket I found her identification papers. I stuffed them in my coat to pass on to the Red Cross and dragged her body off the road and into the field. She was dead, frozen solid, but the thought of tanks rolling over her was more than I could bear.

I ran back to the road and our group. The wandering boy stood in the center of the path, snow falling all around him.

“She didn’t wake up either?” he asked quietly.

I shook my head and took his mittened hand in mine.

And then we both heard it in the distance.

Bang.

 

 

florian

Fate is a hunter.

Engines buzzed in a swarm above. Der Schwarze Tod, “the Black Death,” they called them. I hid beneath the trees. The planes weren’t visible, but I felt them. Close. Trapped by darkness both ahead and behind, I weighed my options. An explosion detonated and death crept closer, curling around me in fingers of smoke.

I ran.

My legs churned, sluggish, disconnected from my racing mind. I willed them to move, but my conscience noosed around my ankles and pulled down hard.

“You are a talented young man, Florian.” That’s what Mother had said.

“You are Prussian. Make your own decisions, son,” said my father.

Would he have approved of my decisions, of the secrets I now carried across my back? Amidst this war between Hitler and Stalin, would Mother still consider me talented, or criminal?

The Soviets would kill me. But how would they torture me first? The Nazis would kill me, but only if they uncovered the plan. How long would it remain a secret? The questions propelled me forward, whipping through the cold forest, dodging branches. I clutched my side with one hand, my pistol with the other. The pain surged with each breath and step, releasing warm blood out of the angry wound.

The sound of the engines faded. I had been on the run for days and my mind felt as weak as my legs. The hunter preyed on the fatigued and weary. I had to rest. The pain slowed me to a jog and finally a walk. Through the dense trees in the forest I spied branches hiding an old potato cellar. I jumped in.

Bang.

 

 

emilia

Shame is a hunter.

I would rest a moment. I had a moment, didn’t I? I slid across the cold, hard earth toward the back of the cave. The ground quivered. Soldiers were close. I had to move but felt so tired. It was a good idea to put branches over the mouth of the forest cellar. Wasn’t it? No one would trek this far off the road. Would they?

I pulled the pink woolen cap down over my ears and tugged my coat closed near my throat. Despite my bundled layers, January’s teeth bit sharp. My fingers had lost all feeling. Pieces of my hair, frozen crisp to my collar, tore as I turned my head. So I thought of August.

My eyes dropped closed.

And then they opened.

A Russian soldier was there.

He leaned over me with a light, poking my shoulder with his pistol.

I jumped, frantically pushing myself back.

“Fräulein.” He grinned, pleased that I was alive. “Komme, Fräulein. How old are you?”

“Fifteen,” I whispered. “Please, I’m not German. Nicht Deutsche.”

He didn’t listen, didn’t understand, or didn’t care. He pointed his gun at me and yanked at my ankle. “Shh, Fräulein.” He lodged the gun under the bone of my chin.

I pleaded. I put my hands across my stomach and begged.

He moved forward.

No. This would not happen. I turned my head. “Shoot me, soldier. Please.” Bang.

 

 

alfred

Fear is a hunter.

But brave warriors, we brush away fear with a flick of the wrist. We laugh in the face of fear, kick it like a stone across the street. Yes, Hannelore, I compose these letters in my mind first, as I cannot abandon my men as often as I think of you.

You would be proud of your watchful companion, sailor Alfred Frick. Today I saved a young woman from falling into the sea. It was nothing really, but she was so grateful she clung to me, not wanting to let go.

“Thank you, sailor.” Her warm whisper lingered in my ear. She was quite pretty and smelled like fresh eggs, but there have been many grateful and pretty girls. Oh, do not be concerned. You and your red sweater are foremost in my thoughts. How fondly, how incessantly, I think of my Hannelore and red-sweater days.

I’m relieved you are not here to see this. Your sugared heart could not bear the treacherous circumstances here in the port of Gotenhafen. At this very moment, I am guarding dangerous explosives. I am serving Germany well. Only seventeen, yet carrying more valor than those twice my years. There is talk of an honor ceremony but I’m too busy fighting for the Führer to accept honors. Honors are for the dead, I’ve told them. We must fight while we are alive!

Yes, Hannelore, I shall prove to all of Germany. There is indeed a hero inside of me.

Bang.

I abandoned my mental letter and crouched in the supply closet, hoping no one would find me. I did not want to go outside. 

 

 

florian

I stood in the forest cellar, my gun fixed on the dead Russian. The back of his head had departed from his skull. I rolled him off the woman.

She wasn’t a woman. She was a girl in a pink woolen cap. And she had fainted.

I scavenged through the Russian’s frozen pockets and took cigarettes, a flask, a large sausage wrapped in paper, his gun, and ammunition. He wore two watches on each wrist, trophies collected from his victims. I didn’t touch them.

Crouching near the corner of the cellar, I scanned the cold chamber for signs of food but saw none. I put the ammunition in my pack, careful not to disturb the small box wrapped in a cloth. The box. How could something so small hold such power? Wars had been waged over less. Was I really willing to die for it? I gnawed at the dried sausage, savoring the saliva it produced.

The ground vibrated slightly.

This Russian wasn’t alone. There would be more. I had to move.

I turned the top on the soldier’s flask and raised it to my nose. Vodka. I opened my coat, then my shirt, and poured the alcohol down my side. The intensity of the pain produced a flash in front of my eyes. My ruptured flesh fought back, twisting a...

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