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Salt to the Sea

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salt to the sea


Joana is a pretty Lithuanian nurse who believes she is a murderer. Alfred is a sociopathic Nazi soldier and sailor. Florian is a fifteen-year old-boy harboring a secret package and a secret identity. Emilia is a Polish girl without papers who is hiding a mysterious pregnancy.

The year is 1945, and all four of them are aboard a ship called the Wilhelm Gustloff. Originally built to be a cruise boat made to carry 1,500 passengers, it is instead packed to the gills, carrying 10,000 passengers as people are desperate to escape Prussia before the Russians invade. The brutally cold winter is upon them, and World War II is raging. Florian, Joana, and Emilia find themselves uniting in an effort to keep their courage and strength up, as each of them are alone on board.

Just as the Wilhelm Gustloff is about to reach safety and freedom, disaster literally strikes in the form of a Russian torpedo. Now all 10,000 passengers on board with have to fight for their lives if they have any hope for survival.

teachingbooks-bookabout the author

Ruta Sepetys


Ruta Sepetys (pronounced Roota Suh-pettys) was raised in Michigan, the youngest of three kids in a home of artists, music lovers, and readers. She headed off to college to become an opera singer, but ended up studying international finance at Hillsdale College as well as at the Centre d’etudes Europeannes and the Institute Commercial de Nancy in France.

After graduation, Ruta moved to Los Angeles where she launched Sepetys Entertainment Group, a business that managed big-name musicians. After thirteen years of coping with fires, earthquakes, and horrible traffic, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee. There she met a “beautiful” man whom she married and who later convinced her to write a novel—after all she loves to sit, can be very melodramatic, and is passionate about paper!

Ruta has three novels out today. Between Shades of Gray was her first book, which was inspired by her grandfather who, as a young boy, escaped Stalin’s Baltic genocide. Out of the Easy is about a girl who wants a new life outside of New Orleans, but becomes tangled up in a dark murder mystery. Salt of the Sea is based upon a historical tragedy—the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during World War II, an event to which she also has family ties.

Recently, Ruta was awarded the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her efforts to educate readers world-wide and preserve the memories of the Lithuanian people. She may have a name that is continually mispronounced, but she is incredibly proud of her Lithuanian heritage.

Ruta does her writing when she is stuck in traffic, on a plane, or early in the morning before work—sometimes even sitting on the edge of the bathtub. Ruta currently lives in the hills of Tennessee in a treehouse.

Author website
Between Shades of Gray website

Also by Ruta Sepetys:
Out of the Easy. Philomel. 2013.
Between Shades of Gray. Philomel. 2011.

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between shades of gray


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Lina, a Lithuanian girl, is wrenched from her life and taken by the Soviets to a labor camp in 1941. In Siberia, she, her mother, and her younger brother, have to fight to survive both the climate and the Soviet NKVD guards. To cope, Lina retreats to her art, hoping somehow that her story will survive in her paintings.





Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
After the Nazis take her professor father, Anna must grow up in Poland alone, until she meets the Swallow Man, a mysterious, tall stranger who seems magical in his gift to disguise himself and speak many languages. Even Bird. Anna, cheered by the bright swallow he summoned to his hand, follows him into the wilderness to make a difference in people’s lives.




My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve
When World War II begins, young Franziska is separated from her family when she boards the kindertransport in Berlin and is taken in secret, along with some 10,000 other children, out of Nazi territory to England. Renamed Frances, Franziska grows up closer to her adoptive family than her real one, and wonders if she will ever see her true family again.