I was expecting this book to be moving and incredible, I loved Between Shades of Grey and I was expecting a similar experience. In the end, it compared very well! Salt to the Sea was just as good and maybe even a little better. I did find that this book, while still heartbreaking and shocking, was easier to read and a bit less depressing. Within the first third of the book I was quickly falling in love with the characters and getting attached to them (the exception being Alfred, who I never liked). Florian was complex and a bit heroic. Emilia was the real hero, in my eyes anyway, she was so strong and sweet... Joana was also strong and wonderful. The side characters were so sweet (Klaus was absolutely adorable) and if/when any of them died it was quite heartbreaking. War is an incredibly horrible thing and these characters take you on a trip of survival through a difficult time. War makes people turn to drastic measures and it breaks them. It was both sad and interesting to see how each character dealt differently with the hardships they endured.
The pace of the book is generally pretty quick, the characters are fleeing from various countries and there are enemy soldiers and obstacles everywhere. I also liked the way the story was told, a couple pages in one of the four character's perspectives. It wasn't confusing after the first five chapters or so and, I think, made the story read a little faster. In my opinion one of the best things about historical fiction is that you are completely transported to another time and directly into the characters' perspectives. It is the best way to learn about history. You learn a lot and I for one find it enjoyable because it's interesting and from a perspective that's easy to read and relate to. I love that about this book and Between Shades of Gray. It is horrible what happened during World War 2, but I definitely don't regret taking the time to read these books. It's not happy, but it's educational and the type of book that opens your eyes and makes you more aware of events in history.
Overall, I really liked this book. I would probably reread it sometime down the road when the things I remember about it will have faded, but maybe not otherwise as it is pretty sad. That would be my one warning, this is a sad book there's lots of death and terrible things happening. There is fighting, children dying, and people being hurt. There are a few mature topics discussed or hinted at along with the violence, so be prepared for that if you do pick it up. If you can handle that, then I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful trip back in time and it's really educational (in a fun way).
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Goodreads • Published February 2016 • Standalone