What It Is About: This story takes place as World War II is coming to an end. There are many refugees that are seeking freedom. Many of these humans that are risking everything to survive begin to head toward the ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Among these people are Joana, Amelia, and Florian who don't know each other, but because they are on the same path toward the ship, they travel together. While they are on the journey toward the ship, Alfred is an officer on the ship with a story of his own. After many struggles, set-backs, and difficulties, these scared human begins finally arrive at the ship. Thinking they have put the hardest part behind them, they soon realize what they have already experienced is nothing compared to what lays ahead of them.
What I Thought Of It: There are some historical fiction stories that I love, some I don't love, and some that are in-between. I enjoyed the story, but don't think as much as many of the readers that have shared their thoughts. At times I had difficulty keeping track of these characters and their stories. The story is told from multiple perspectives and each character had the opportunity to tell their story and how they related to the other characters in the story. Once I "knew" them, I began to enjoy the plot more and more. To be honest, I was not aware of this historical event and was fascinated by all the new information I learned about it. Overall, it was a great read and the writing was detailed, precise, and beautiful.
Who Should Read It: It surprised me that this novel is geared toward readers in grades seven/eight and above. As I read it, I kept thinking it was geared more toward the adult reader. As I mentioned above, I had a hard time keeping all the story lines straight, that I would think younger readers would as well. Maybe it it easier for "younger" minds than my getting older mind. I know readers that have experienced Ruta's other stories, will greatly enjoy this newest historical book.
Rating: 4 STARS out of 5 Stars