Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys (New York: Philomel Books 2016)


  • Those memories, they are the coals that shield my heart from frost.
  • But time for reflection is scant.
  • Redistribution to those who are worthy makes the most sense.
  • I had the highest marks in school but couldn’t master common sense.
  • … trees hold hundreds of years of stories… they remember everything.
  • Honor lost was everything lost.
  • Not a traitor to your country.  Much worse.  A traitor to your soul.
  • I knew the legends of the birds.  Seagulls were the souls of dead soldiers.  Owls were the souls of women.  Doves were the recently departed souls of unmarried girls.
  • Sometimes living life is more instructive than studying it.
  • War had rearranged my priorities.  I now clung to memories more than goals or material things.  But there were a few irreplaceable items that buoyed my spirit and fight for life.
  • I became good at pretending.  I became so good that after a while the lines blurred between my truth and fiction.
  • Mother was anchor.  Mother was comfort.  Mother was home.  A girl who lost her mother was suddenly a tiny boat on an angry ocean.
  • There is so much ugliness and imperfection in the world.  We know it exists but we create further trauma by being forced to look at it.  Some things are better ignored.
  • Just because someone knocks on the door doesn’t mean you have to open it.
  • “Do you see, my dear?  The proverbs are at play.  ‘I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.'”
  • Contribute a piece of art instead of copying others.
  • Survival had its price: guilt.
  • Obstacles do not exist to be surrendered to, but only to be broken.
  • If we share unity of purpose, stand upon the same team, shouldn’t we try our best to assist one another?
  • Just when you think this war has taken everything you loved, you meet someone and realize that somehow you still have more to give.
  • Fate is a hunter.  Its barrel pressed against my forehead.
  • Guilt is a hunter.  I was its hostage.
  • It was my punishment.  Honor lost.  Everything lost.  Shame is a hunter.  My shame was all around me now.
  • Fear is a hunter.  It encircles us when we are unarmed and least expect it.  And then we are forced to make decisions.
  • How do you defend yourself against the prolonged, insufferable agony of knowing you will surrender to the sea?

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