Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
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What a wonderful, beautiful book!
There is so much that I enjoyed about this. I love that it put a spotlight on an almost unknown tragedy of epic proportions, and in the process it exposed the misery that German leadership put their own people through during World War II. It is told through the eyes of teenagers, but it is not your typical YA. It is a story of survival, not dystopian romance, but real struggle where people die and bad things happen. Many YA authors have stopped holding back when it comes to sexual content for young readers, but Sepetys has given them something that is so much more valuable in this moving novel.
I listened to this on audiobook. Therefore, I was a little afraid at first that I would not be able to keep track of the variety of points of view that are immediately introduced. The stories and personalities are quickly established, and this turned out to be not a problem at all. Each character became someone I cared about, even though (or maybe because of) knowing their darkest secrets and regrets.
The story of the Wilhelm Gustloff is the kind of thing that you just can't make up & can't believe actually happened. If nothing else, this book should be read for the history that it exposes through the fictional characters' stories.