Rating: 4.2 stars
Survivors of the war seek out hope for a future by trying to get out of Poland and into Germany for safety. Each young and unique perspective carries a past with them and hopes for their own lives. Their paths converge on the Wilhelm Gustloff,
Ruta Sepetys knocked it out of the park once again. After having read her other books, I’m now an avid follower of her work. It’s consistently well researched and well thought out. She again selected a part of history that just isn’t well-known and really brought to light the intense tragedy that occurred through a myriad of different voices.
This book I found more difficult to get into, as her other books only have one perspective. This one had several perspectives, which moved in quick succession with each other. Initially I had trouble with the format, as the chapters were so short. I hardly felt I got to know the characters at all and what their difficulties were, but as I dug deeper, pieces fell into place beautifully into a true work of art. I found myself racing to the end of this book as I was so curious to know what the outcome would be.
Recommendations: This story does deal with very tragic subject matter – its no secret that the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff killed thousands. Some of these descriptions are hard to take, and more sensitive kids may have difficulty with this. There is some allusions to other mature content are within this (SPOILER: rape by Soviet soldiers – I actually found Exit, Pursued by Bear to be less graphic despite the subject matter)
Themes: resilence, strength, loss, togetherness, friendship