I used to not ever be a huge reader of historical fiction stories because it just has not been one of my favorite topics. Maybe it was always because the events were not engaging for my brain or I just chose to not want to absorb the information (I feel awful saying both of those things so please don’t hate me…). Regardless, I’m thrilled to say that this author and a couple of others made me want to read historical fiction. They made me want to read MORE about these topics. Sepetys is an absolute master of this genre and is nothing short of brilliant with her works.
Before this book, I had not heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff or what happened with it. My small country town did not ever cover this topic as part of its required subjects so this really was a new thing for me to discover. I was in tears as I made my way through this story. It takes a lot for me to shed tears during a book but Sepetys made it happen. This was such a powerful, heartbreaking, raw, and necessary story. I am forever thankful that it was written and put out into the world.
The horrors that took place during the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff were almost too much to wrap my head around. To sit and realize that events like this really took place broke my heart into a million pieces. My heart did not break just for the characters within the pages of this book, but every single person that suffered during WWII and because of WWII. While I say all of that, it was still not an easy read to get through. It was so emotionally charged that I could not read it fast enough. This was the type of story that had me thinking about it while I wasn’t reading it. I just had to know what happened, but at the same time I did not want the story to end.
Sepetys will always be one of those Auto-Buy Authors for me. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a book festival and hearing her talk about this book made me want to read it even more. This author has such power and emotion behind her stories that, as a reader, I cannot help but feel so emotionally drawn/connected to her works. I will always read whatever she writes. She has a reader for life right here.