Monday, November 11, 2013

REVIEW--Between Shades of Gray

Well, by now you know how much I love Ruta Sepetys and her books.  So of course I had to post a review today on Between Shades of Gray, her first novel.  It demonstrates what Ruta masters--taking a part of history that we're just not overly familiar with and bringing it to light (in a very addicting way!).  So let's jump right into it!

  • Standalone novel
  • Historical fiction

The Gist:
Lina is a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl.  In the midst of WWII, Lina's father (a professor) is arrested by the Soviets and sent off to a Soviet prison.  Shortly thereafter, Lina, her mother, and her 11-year-old brother Jonas are sent to railway cars and a compound.  They are then sent to Siberia.  And all simply because they are Lithuanian.
Lina finds freedom and strength in her artwork and hopes that it will find its way to her father and bring their family together again.

What I Loved:
  • I DEVOURED this book.  I have never read a book that was so heart-wrenching and yet so addictive.  A book that you don't want to keep reading because of Lina's awful situation, but you can't stop reading because Sepetys is such a great author.
  • Such a raw novel, and the emotions of the various characters were all over the place--bitter, hopeful, sacrificial, selfish.
  • The short chapters gave me a chance to process the plotline.
  • The scenes of the Lithuanians singing together--what a sign of hope!
  • The perfect placements of flashbacks.  Sometimes flashbacks drive me crazy because they take away from the current story I want to keep reading, but these flashbacks gave me the background that I needed.
  • Sentences just left me stunned.  It was actually hard to pick my favorite line from the book because I loved so many!  Like the very first line of the book--"They took me in my nightgown."  Sepetys had me from the first line!
What I Didn't Love:
  • The title.  Even though Sepetys probably didn't have much say in the title, with this being her first novel, she will have this book forever compared with Fifty Shades of Gray.  Although maybe that helped her initial sales?  Whenever I booktalk this book, students always ask right away if it's Fifty Shades for teens.  My response?  It's so much better than that!
  • Maybe it's because I don't fully understand the situation of the Lithuanians, but I found it surprising--and almost unbelievable--that they could send letters through the local post office.  Were they really given this freedom?  And they could receive letters, too?  Seemed out-of-character for the Soviet guards, but maybe it did happen...  
 My favorite line: "The bald man stared blankly, and for once, said nothing."  If you read this book, I think you'll understand why this is such a great line!

So please--read, read, read this book!  And then come back and tell me your thoughts!


 Not a surprise that I give it 5 heels, huh?

I'll be back tomorrow with a fun Top Ten topic, and then I'll design an outfit for Lina on Wednesday!


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