The story takes place during the winter of 1945 in East Prussia and Poland. The Soviets are advancing, sending thousands of refugees fleeing toward the Polish coast.
The narrative rotates between four points-of-view. Florian is an enigmatic Prussian soldier on a personal mission. Joana, a young Lithuanian nurse, is haunted by guilt as she journeys across the war-torn landscape, helping where she can. Alfred, a sailor, harbors delusions of grandeur. And Emilia, a fifteen-year-old Latvian, is pregnant and about to give birth.
The writing is rich and lyrical. I found myself stopping constantly to admire a turn of phrase or arresting description. Each of the four voices is authentic and compelling and pulls you onward. Salt to the Sea is one of those books that remain long in your memory.
Note: Our school media specialist put this title on our Young Adult shelf (for 8th grade and up).
Reviewed by K.J. Wagner, M.A., NBCT