In Salt to the Sea, four teens tell their stories of attempting to escape from Germany in advance of the Russian invasion near the end of World War II. Joana, a nurse, travels with a group of refugees and attempts to care for them as best she can. Florian rescues Emilia from a Russian soldier, and she faithfully follows “her knight” toward the Baltic Sea and potential escape. He carries with him secrets, treasure, and a survivor’s instinct. German sailor, Albert, lives an active fantasy life based on his perceived importance to the Nazi cause. As the book progresses, their paths converge in the port of the evacuation fleet. They each bear heavy burdens and face seemingly insurmountable odds as they struggle to survive and escape.
With its alternating perspectives and urgent pacing, I raced through this book. I loved how the extreme circumstances caused many of the characters to look out for each other and form a “family” to survive; this pays tribute to the power of shared experience. These young adults face devastating circumstances, but they remain teens with their own passions and pasts to complicate their paths. Informative and engaging, I highly recommend Salt to the Sea to fans of YA historical fiction.