As of very recently, I’ve finished reading all of Ruta Sepetys’ published books. And upon finishing them all I realize that I desperately want more of them because I LOVE Ruta Sepetys’ writing and the stories she chooses to tell.
Something that I really love about her books is that both Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea are fictional books that deal with real but largely unknown events. Between Shades of Gray deals with the atrocities committed by the Soviets rather than the Germans during WWII and Salt to the Sea deals with the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a huge ship carrying thousands of refugees. Despite the fact that I’ve been reading WWII historical fiction since I was in middle school, I had never read about these topics before. I always love when I read a book that teaches me something.
Sepetys also has a way of getting readers (or at least me) to connect really well with her characters. Every time I read one of her books, I find myself very quickly connecting with the characters and really hoping that everything will turn out okay for them, despite knowing the odds of that happening are not great given their circumstances.
I think a lot of historical fiction, whether it’s YA or not, can be kind of intimidating, especially for people who don’t read it very often. Maybe you’re worried you won’t understand some of the outdated terms being used. Maybe you’re nervous that without already knowing about the time period or the events, you won’t fully understand the book or the references to real events. Even as someone who reads historical fiction pretty frequently, historical fiction can intimidate me for these (and other) reasons. But this is not an issue at all with Ruta Sepetys’ books. She writes the story authentically and accurately and you can certainly tell that she’s done her research. Despite this, the book reads easily and it’s not at all difficult to immerse yourself in the story. It’s almost as if you’re reading a contemporary (key word almost).
These are just a few of many reasons why I love Ruta Sepetys and her books. Even if you’re not a huge fan of historical fiction, I think you’ll find something in her books that you enjoy and I encourage you to give at least one of her books a chance if you haven’t already. I can’t wait for her to publish more books in the future!