Author Review: Ruta Sepetys




Mackenzie White

Having read too many books to count, I have had a chance to refine my tastes and interests in things like what genres I reach for and what books that I constantly want to re-live that end up becoming my favorites. I’ve also had the time to determine my favorite authors, the authors whose words I soak up like a sponge and ooze appreciation for their amazing works of art. One of my most favorite of said fantastic authors is Ruta Sepetys.

Sepetys is an author that primarily writes historical fiction and books focusing around the time period of the 1940’s to 1960’s. Her books include Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Grey, Fountains of Silence, and Out of the Easy. I personally have read all the books except for Out of the Easy, but I can speak on behalf of the rest and say that these books are all amazing and shed light on important aspects of our history. Sepetys takes historical events that are not widely known by people and researches them very extensively to accurately see the whole picture of what happened. Then, she takes these pieces of history and combines it with an intelligent and emotional story for her audience to experience.

The first novel of Sepety’s books I read was Salt to the Sea. This story takes place in Lithuania in the 1940’s, and is about a ship called the Wilhelm Gulstoff, a German military transport ship holding about 10,000 passengers that was sunk by Russian submarines. Missiles struck the boat and only about 1,300 passengers survived resulting in massive casualty. However, the event was so covered up by the Germans that not many know about it. Sepetys wrote Salt of the Sea to help educate more people about the event through a beautiful story. This is the book that blossomed my love for this author and cemented her as a favorite. She builds her story in such a clever way and immediately hooks the audience with her writing. She keeps tension in the novel while offering bits of peace for the audience to enjoy and replenish their emotional reserves for future events. The characters were all complex, and I got very attached to them by the end of the book. The ship sinking was also held in a very mature light while also incorporating the details of the story. It was an amazing book that I still think about frequently.

The most recent of her books that I read was Fountains of Silence. This book takes place in the 1960’s in Spain after the rise of Dictator Francisco Franco. After his dictatorship ended, it was discovered that children born from rebels that participated in the Spanish Civil War were being stolen and given to more favorable families a.k.a. families who weren’t involved with the rebels. Sepetys tells the story through the eyes of a boy from America visiting Spain and a Spanish family whose parents were rebels themselves. This book is much better in quality that Salt to the Sea as this book is more refined in her research and storytelling. Sepetys weaved much more detail and planned this book out in a way she could incorporate more story into the novel to successfully explore and retell lost history.

Overall, Sepetys is an amazing storyteller that weaves beautiful historical fiction novels that help educate readers and I will always cherish her books.