Almost all novels (or any other pieces for that matter), create feelings that each person connects to, something they can understand. So much so, that is almost changes a person. I feel most connected with the novel Salt to the Sea (written by Ruta Sepetys), as the desire to help others but remain blended in and hiding from everyone else overruns the desire to be in society.
This story follows four teenagers running from the horrors of World War II. They are all from four separate places, with four separate stories. They become so immersed in the war, and have to make some risky choices. One thing that really caught my attention, was that they weren’t just running from the people after them and the constant fear of being caught; they are running from their past and the things they are trying to hide. In each introductory chapter, they each have a starting line that foreshadows into what they are running from. Joana, a nurse from Lithuania, claims that “Guilt is a hunter.” She has this guilt of leaving her family behind to get killed and tortured that she is carrying with her, while also carrying the burden of trying to help everyone she sees that is in need. Florian, the mysterious, blending in teen with a secret of epic proportions, says that “Fate is a hunter.” He has a prized art piece from when he forged art pieces unknowingly for a man working for Hitler. This fate leads him to keep his identity a secret, and keep all events of the past to himself. He is determined to get where he is going, even if it means he has to leave people in the dust. i identify most with these two characters, and connected in a way in which I know I have that desire to help and can’t watch people struggle, but I also don’t want to share much about what happened years ago, or share much about myself in general. This gave the text meaning for me, as the connection not only with each of these two characters, but having their connection between each other as I have with a select few other people came for me in a similar way. Florian chose to open up to Joana, because he felt that he could trust her. the same goes for me, as only a small few know enough about me, making it easier for me to build upon that trust.
The words on each page develop a reaction that change the course of the emotional roller coaster that I was on while reading this book. i felt the anguish and pain from each part, to a point of where it would “guarantee the pages keep turning” with the “slowly revealed back stories.” The reactions of the developing relationships really had a deep reaction time and connection for, almost to where I had to force myself to put it down because i needed time to evaluate what had happened. The way the author uses delicate detail and releases their ” individual backstories slowly and with care.” create a feeling of affection and warmth between the not only the characters, but between a reader and the characters. I got so immersed in the emotions of each character, that i felt like one of them. i felt like I was somewhere that I could finally somewhat understand what they were going through, even though I could never fully comprehend the audacity and dangers of these situations.The writing fully envelopes the disaster if WWII and the unknown tragedy that characterizes what it means to be unsafe, even when safety seems right in front of you. it made me realize the need to fully look at a situation, look down beneath the surface for the possibilities of more than what is before me. The writing fully exemplifies the ” forgotten, or absorbed, or reclaimed”. This gave me a reaction of pity and guilt, for something that i didn’t even do or experience. This just goes to show that and author can have a much further impact than just a good story, or just “good or bad” emotions.
Overall, the story that Ruta Sepetys makes you forget that it is a work of fiction. It feels like this could have happening, or actually is happening as I read it. Even though I could never imagine the pain and anguish that the people encountered, i can relate to the relationships and backstories. this creates not only meaning to the text, but meaning for me as a reader. For those wanting a connection, to feel the emotions this has to offer, i highly suggest this to you.