My friend and writing colleague Ruta Sepetys just won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for Children's Literature for her historical novel, Salt to the Sea. The novel tells the story of a group of civilian refugees from the Eastern Europe who are fleeing Soviet forces as eastern Germany is overwhelmed near the end of WWII. The refugees seek passage on a German liner, the Wilhelm Gustoff, only to have the overloaded ship sunk by a Soviet torpedo. Over 9,000 men, women and children perished in what has been called the worst maritime disaster in history.
Ruta is an amazing writer and researcher, and sees her calling as discovering and revealing the forgotten moments of history, particularly those events which affected the everyday men, women and children that most history and historical fiction gloss over or never mention at all.
There is a TMP connection here as well, as Ruta's first novel, the international bestseller Between Shades of Gray about the Lithuanian deportation and genocide conducted by Stalin, was partially researched with guidance from TMPers. I asked a question here for Ruta, and was pointed to various sources by our membership (so kudos to y'all). Those sources helped guide her research.
Salt to the Sea is a companion novel to Between Shades of Gray as it deals partially with the fate of a relative of the characters in the first novel, who was able to escape the Soviet purge, only to be trapped in German-occupied lands during the war. It is a page-turner, beautifully written, unflinchingly real, yet still full of hope and love and perseverance in a time of gross hardship. I cannot recommend it highly enough. (And yes, I am mentioned in the author's notes at the end. )