This brand new piece of historical fiction follows four narrators during World War II - three teenage Prussian (now the area containing countries like Latvia and Lithuania) refugees and one German sailor. Each carries a secret that they have never told another. The three refugees meet on the road, each coming from a very different background and set of circumstances, and they are all headed for the Baltic Sea, hoping to escape an encroaching Russian army by boarding a German ship headed toward relative safety. Unfortunately, it seems that safety does not always come as advertised.
Why It's Worth Reading:
Once again, I am floored by a piece of historical fiction. There is so much more to this book and its characters that make it worth reading, but it is also a well-researched fictional account of what may have occurred leading up to and during the worst maritime disaster in history. We're talking about nearly twice as many deaths as the Titanic, and yet I have never before heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff or its epic demise. I initially picked up this book because I am a huge fan of the author, Ruta Sepetys' (who's from Michigan, by the way) other works, Between Shades of Grey and Out of the Easy. This book did not disappoint. I was immediately captured by the fascinating and mysterious cast of characters, and the fast, short chapters that they each told in succession added a sense of suspense and action that really kept me turning pages. I'm thrilled to have yet another fantastic historical fiction novel to share with students and to connect to curriculum, and as a bonus, I'm adding it to the World History Grade Improvement list for second semester. Watch for copies to arrive to the LMC shortly!
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Awards: None yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it received some eventually. It's only been out for 10 days and it's already got 4 starred reviews!
Source: NetGalley (I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.)
Do We Own a Copy?: Several copies are on order!