I have always wanted to read about history, though I hardly end up picking up a history book. What better way to induct yourself into history reading than a historical fiction book! This book, which I managed to finish at a much greater pace than my usual, is easily one of the best books I have read. (It deserves to be placed in the league of Khaled Hosseini’s books! Now, I hope you get what I am trying to say!!!)
The story is set in 1940s East Prussia (which was a German territory) when the World War II was coming to a close with the Germans being crushed by the Soviets. The story revolves around a bunch of teenagers, with different nationalities, who find themselves among the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the advancing Soviet’s Red Army.
It talks of the harrowing cruelties that man is capable of doing, brings out the vulnerability of man at the wake of war, at the same time, showing how one can find love at the oddest of places at the oddest of times. It makes the reader realise how unfair and devastating wars can be, ripping apart families and changing lives forever!
The point of view narration from the four main characters, was refreshing and deserves to be mentioned. My limited vocabulary seems highly inadequate to describe the quality of writing in this novel. The author does a wonderful job of painting a picture of the World War, a picture that is vivid, stark and realistic. Her words will surely tug at your heart strings, make you wince and leave you spellbound.
The characters are bound to stick with the readers long after the novel ends. Emilia, the 15 year old Polish girl, has become one of my favourite fictional characters of all time! The novel sucks you into the plot and when it throws you out back into the real world, it is both sudden and unfair. You can’t help but wish you could linger in there a little more.
Poignant and devastatingly beautiful, this book by Ruta Sepetys is a literary masterpiece!
I will end with some of my favourite lines from the book.
“Just when you think this war has taken everything you loved, you meet someone and realize that somehow you still have more to give.”
“War is catastrophe. It breaks families in irretrievable pieces. But those who are gone are not necessarily lost.”
“Mother was comfort. Mother was home. A girl who lost her mother was suddenly a tiny boat on an angry ocean. Some boats eventually floated ashore. And some boats, like me, seemed to float farther and farther from land”