About the book
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people 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 #1 NYT bestseller 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 can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.
I have only recently started enjoying historical fiction more, especially novels set during WWII. I’ve heard great things about this author, and was so anxious to read this book that I preordered it. Although it was incredibly heartbreaking and sad, this book was worth every penny. I loved how the author wrote each chapter from a different characters POV, and that each chapter was really short – making it impossible to put the book down.
Nothing breaks my heart more than reading about WWII. The tragic events that took place during that time is so hard to stomach. Reading this book was not easy as far as emotions go – the horrors people faced during the war were so very awful. My heart broke several times while reading this book, but there was also proof of the goodness in humanity throughout the story. The hope of love prevailing over all of the sadness and horror is what kept me reading.
An emotional and tragic story sure to make a long lasting impression.
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Published: February 2, 2016 by Philomel Books
Length: 400 Pages