Hello and welcome to the first installment Someone Picks My Books for 2021! This year I am starting off by reading a book picked by Misty where you can find on twitter as @mistymichelle30 or on her blog called Misty’s Book Space. This is the second time Misty has picked a book for me, you can see the first book she picked for me on the post called, Someone Picks My Books | Misty’s Book Space. Misty decided to pick another book by Ruta Sepetys, so without further adu, here is my review and thoughts on her pick!
One Sentence Review
This novel gives light to all the horrendous things people had to deal with during WWII outside of the horrible concentrations camps, mistrust rampant and anxiety high while the reader follows well written characters.
While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with more than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.
Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks. –goodreads
What I Liked
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. As I said in my one sentence review, I felt that this was a great topic to cover for WW2. A lot of the stories I have come in contact with mainly deal with the jewish perspective, those trying to get jewish people out of occupied areas and those in concentration camps. I felt that this highlights another experience that was sadly common during WW2. You could not trust anyone, even if they were the allied forces. Many people operated out of fear and self preservation, it was rare to find a stranger to help and trust.
The writing was done well for the most part, I thought it was a good idea to give this novel multiple perspectives to tell the story of many more people and their experiences. While this is a fiction novel, it does draw a lot on true events and overall I think the author did a good job of this. The characters were well done and I thought the author did a good job of highlighting their motives and feelings while being in these horrible situations. I will say, I was kind of surprised that I was invested as much as I was because of an issue I will talk about in a bit. I think the fact I had such a reaction to events was the story telling ability in creating an atmosphere more so than the characters.
What I Didn’t Like
Honestly, the one thing that really was difficult was the frequency of the point of view switching. It took a while for me to easily be able to switch between them and get the characters straight. This led to their voices and stories being jumbled at first. I did eventually figure it out, but at the start I feel like the switches needed to be less frequent.
Overall, I am really glad that Misty picked this book for me to read this month. It was a heart breaking read because of its content, but I also think it is important to understand and see what these people had to endure, not just these characters. The content was good historically speaking and the author ability to create an atmosphere so quickly pulled me in is a talent that not all writers have. I think if you have the chance to read this novel you should give it a try, but keep in mind that difficult topics are dealt with that are common themes in WW2.
Next month I am reading a book picked by Nicky, who you can find on twitter as @cre8ive_nicky. I am a bit nervous, but also looking forward to reading the thriller she picked for me. I either love a thriller or it falls flat so I am curious to see how this is going to work out!
Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?