Well, let me say that this book did not disappoint. I started reading it in the morning and I finished it all in one day — it was that good. I am so glad to know that Sepetys does quite a bit of research when writing her books. I even decided to check out a recommended website once I had finished reading the whole book.
I will admit that it was a little hard to start the book since it kept jumping around between different character points of view, but once I got into the story I started imagining what the characters looked like. My favorite character was Joana since she was leading a group of refugees across the war torn land. I empathized with other characters, but she seemed like the strongest of them all.
I think the character I didn’t like was Alfred, the boy soldier/sailor. He seemed to full of himself and thought more highly of himself than others did. He was so focused on daydreaming about his girl that he often did not get any work done. He was only thinking of himself when Florian asked for help. Alfred only was concerned with getting a medal or getting more recognition than he deserved.
This is a historical novel that explains what happened to the voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff ship when it was taking refugees across the Baltic Sea to safety. It reminded me of the sinking of the Titanic and I could picture everything as it was happening — the lifeboats, people panicking, the ship tilting, etc.
I was a amazed to find out that more people died in this sinking than the sinking of the Titanic or the Lusitania. I know I never learned about this tragedy in school and I am glad that Sepetys decided to use that sinking to help us understand what happened.
What is most amazing about this book is that all of the four main characters had such diverse backgrounds — this helped explain why each person saw the world differently. I felt like I was there with them on their journeys when they fought for survival while escaping the enemy.
If you love historical fiction or know of someone who does, please read this book. It will forever change how you remember World War II history while helping you learn a little more about the German history that the Nazis did not want anyone to remember.
Three words that describe this book: Interesting, thought-provoking, memorable
You might want to pick this book up if: You love historical fiction, World War II stories, four person POV stories, or survival stories