In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
“Observations of war and loss, human cruelty, and hatred, are unflinching. But through the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage, and sacrifice. Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys’s exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.” - School Library Journal (Starred review)
“An impeccably researched story of hardship and survival in Eastern Europe. In many ways, the greatest punishment—and the greatest of all tragedies—is to be forgotten. This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent.” - Booklist (Starred Review)
“Sepetys delivers another knockout historical novel…she excels in shining light on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength and resilience in the face of war and cruelty.” - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)