Author: Ruta Sepetys
“Guilt is a hunter. Fate is a hunter. Shame is a hunter. Fear is a hunter.”
Historial fiction will always be one of my favorite genres to read. The fictional story told by Joana, Emilia, Florian, and Alfred is that of a very true and very tragic historical event; the sinking of The Wilhem Gustloff. Each character holds their own secrets and their own guilts. As they get to know one another, opening up could determine their survival. When strangers from different backrounds come together not only to survive, but to lend helping hands, there is something to be said. A book about friendship and sacrifice, gives us some light in reading through such dark times.
My favorite character in this book may come as a surprise. I loved the old man–Heinz–the shoe poet most. He was the guide for all the young adults and children. He was the wisdom and hope for the group. Unfortunately, all the events and characters were written as though you knew them and were experiencing them.
When it comes to historical fiction, you will always learn something factual. It will always hit a nerve somewhere inside of you that resonates suffering. There are no words to describe anytime I read a book that has taken place during World War II, fiction or not–it hurts. It’s incredibly surreal to hear about certain events or experiences that once actually happened and your heart explodes with so, so many emotions. This book did all of that to me.
The author, Ruta Sepetys leaves us with these a wonderful authors note. This part in particular has stayed with me:
“Every nation has hidden history, countless stories preserved only by those who experienced them. Stories of war are often read and discussed worldwide by readers whose nations stood on opposite sides during battle. History divided us, but through reading we can be united in story, study, and remebrance. Books join us together as a global reading community striving to learn from the past.”