Summary (from Goodreads):
“The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.
In 1945, 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 each other 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.”
This is my first Ruta Sepetys book (I KNOW) but I definitely plan to read her others as soon as I can.
As I was reading this, I had the feeling that I would end up crying. (I did.)
It’s based on a true story, although (like in the case of The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian) it’s a story I hadn’t heard before, ever. I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that it was a German ship during World War II. (Probably a lot, right?)
Despite the subject matter, this book is incredibly easy to fly through in an afternoon; the chapters are incredibly short. Some of them were only a page or two. And despite the fact that there were four narrators, it was incredibly easy to keep them separate in my head. Their voices all sounded different.
I can’t wait to see how many awards this book wins. It’s incredibly gorgeous and just haunting.