Joana is trying to stay ahead of the Soviet army after fleeing her home in Lithuania.
Florian is an East Prussian with a very dangerous secret.
Emilia is Polish, fleeing from the people who think she should be exterminated based on where she was born.
Alfred is a young German soldier with delusions of grandeur.
All are fleeing from the Russians as they invade East Prussia. They all have the same destination. The ports.
Warning, there will be spoilers after this point. Here I will be discussing the real events talked about in the book. If you do not know the premise of the book or have never heard about the true events talked about you might either want to read what I say or not. That is up to you.
This story broke my heart.
How something like this could happen and go untold for so long is unthinkable.
While the characters and the majority of the story may be complete fiction, the last 100 pages contain a true story about how 10,000 people were packed onto a ship during the evacuation of East Prussia; how that ship, mostly civilians and 5,000 children, was torpedoed by the Russians and sunk; how more than 9,000 people perished during the sinking. It is the largest maritime catastrophe in modern history and people don’t know about it.
How is that even possible? How is it possible that a whole part of history, part of the allied victory during WWII, contains something this … Awful? How can we overlook something like this?
This is a story that needs to be told. It’s a story that needs to be told. It’s something everyone needs to know, something the world needs to know.
Actually talking about the story, the characters were extremely well written. They are a diverse group and the characters could have made or break this story. They had to be people you could feel for, people you would want to root for to survive and Sepetys did an amazing job writing her characters. You fell for them from the get go. Well, all of them except Alfred. That kid was just off the wall bonkers and you were just waiting for him to do something insane.
If you’ve read to the end of this I highly recommend going a picking up a copy of this book. It was educational, an easy read, and absolutely heartbreaking. But it makes you feel something. You feel for the characters, their losses, their pain, their triumphs. You feel for what happened. You feel more informed for knowing this happened and you feel better knowing you can spread this piece of untold history to others.
Next review: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes