Recommended Summer Reading
1945: The Wilhelm Gustloff, a cruise ship converted for war by Germany, was crammed to the gunwales with refugees, all seeking to escape the advancing Russian Army. Four teenagers, all from different countries, each harboring a secret, is desperately trying to escape to freedom. They form friendships and take incredible risks to help save each other.
This nautical disaster novel, written by Ruta Sepetys, alternates point of view between the four teens. Mirroring the chaos of war, the story jostles the reader between scenes of incredible violence and endearing acts of humanity. It’s hard to tell who is who at first, but quickly the narrative settles into a fast paced, high stakes plot that races to a violent conclusion. After overcoming impossible odds to secure passage on the Wilhelm Gustloff, the ship sets out to sea and meets it’s destiny. The only question is, who, if anyone, will survive in the freezing waters?
“The sinking of the Titanic may be the most infamous naval disaster in history, and the torpedoing of the Lusitania the most infamous in wartime. But with death counts of about 1,500 and 1,200 respectively, both are dwarfed by what befell the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ocean liner that was taken down by a Soviet sub on Jan. 30, 1945, killing 9,343 people—most of them war refugees, about 5,000 of them children.” Time Magazine