Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review -- Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray
My "appreciation" rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source:  Nook
Genre:  YA fiction
Potential objectionable material:  graphic descriptions of death and deplorable living conditions

For the record, “mommy porn” got nothing on Joseph Stalin...

Fourteen year old Lina and her family have been forcibly removed from their home in Lithuania and shipped via train to Siberia to work in a prison camp at the onset of WWII. Their father, having been removed by the NKVD (the Soviet secret police), is missing as well and Lina is determined to find him through her “secret messages.”

In harrowing detail author, Ruta Sepetys, brings to life the forgotten story of Stalin’s obliteration of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania) during WWII. This was an illuminating account of what happened to nearly 20 million Russians, primarily doctors, authors, professors and other intellectual and political dissidents, who were shipped to Siberia under Stalin’s fascist regime.

It’s hard to say whether I “enjoyed” this novel. It was so brutal at times I nearly stopped reading. But Ms. Sepetys does such an amazing job recreating the misery and bleakness of what Lina’s family endured (and the hundreds of thousands of those that these characters represent) that I felt I owed her the respect of finishing her novel.

Personally, most WWII historical fiction that I have read focuses on Germany or the Holocaust during WWII. I was extremely appreciative that I could learn about another “front” of the WWII story.


Melissa @ Confessions of an Avid Reader said...

I recently read an article on how this book keeps getting mistaken for one of the EL James' Fifty Shades novels!

Great review. I recently finished The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy, which deals with the horrors of WWII in Poland. It was a very good book but, like you with this one, I have a hard time saying I enjoyed it because parts were extremely difficult to read given the brutality.

I'm going to add this one to my wish list.

Melissa said...

I like your opening sentence. It's SO true. Likewise, I appreciated the non-Holocaust look at WWII. I wonder if there's more books like this out there.

Unknown said...

It's hard to say you "enjoyed" a novel like this one. I have read wonderful comments about the author's writing and how she handles the subject matter. Unfortunately there's violence in this book and the sad things is it's a realistic depiction of what these people endured. I want to read this book for that reason, as a tribute to the people from the Baltic States. I also haven't read about the brutality suffered by the people in the Baltics during WW II and I would like to know about it.

You've wrtten a great review of such a powrful and disturbing book. Thank you!

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amused said...

For a second I did take a double take at the title! This sounds like the kind of book I am really into so I will need to look into reading this one.

Unknown said...

Just saw this review. I'm going to add it to my list. Josh spent time in both Lithuania and Estonia on his mission, and I feel I know so little about them.