The 2016 Carnegie Medal awarded their top honor to Ruta Sepetys for her novel Salt to the Sea.
Salt to the Sea follows four teenagers, each born of a different homeland; each haunted by tragedy. In 1945, as thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, their paths converge as they vie for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. Yet not all promises can be kept.
Sepetys, who was previously shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2012, has a family connection to the maritime disaster upon which Salt to the Sea is based, and spent three years researching the novel.
“As a writer, I am drawn to underrepresented stories and history in hiding. I spend a lot of time pondering the question – why do some parts of history penetrate our collective consciousness while others remain hidden? When I began work on the novel years ago, I had no way of knowing that when it was published, we would be amidst a refugee crisis. Then and now, my thoughts return to the children,” said Sepetys.
The Carnegie Medal is a British award judged by children’s librarians and presented annually to the author of an outstanding book for children. Salt to the Sea is available now.