Awards: SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Fiction (2016), Audie Award for Young Adult (2017), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult (2019), Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee for Honorable Mention (2018), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2017)
Format: hardcover, 391 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Places: World War II (WW II), East Prussia
Publisher: Philomel Books
Characters: Joana, Alfred Frick, Florian Beck, Emilia
Genres: historical, fiction, war, romance, teen, survival
ISBN: 9780399160301 (0399160302)
Release date: February 2, 2016
About The Book
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.
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