Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Between Shades of Gray // REVIEW

Summer has been a roller coaster ride.  A fun one, but a crazy one.  Not having school has been a blessing, except for the one health class I'm taking *headdesk*.  I HAVEN'T POSTED IN OVER TWO MONTHS.  Yikes, that's bad.  Summer flew by, and so did every Tuesday.  I've been on a whopping four vacations... not exactly sure how that happened... but it did.

I'M GOING INTO HIGH SCHOOL THIS YEAR, GUYS.  Wait, whhaattttt???  My brain is on overload trying to comprehend the fact that I only have four more years until I graduate.  And no more homeschooling.  NOOOOOOO.  I can't sleep in any more, or go places during the school day, or do school with my awesome homeschooling friends *sobs*.  But, I have been blessed to go to an awesome Christian private school in my town.  Yippeeee.  I played soccer there last year, so I know a lot of girls there already.  I'M EXCITED AND TERRIFIED.

Now that I'm done getting my ramblings and updates out, let me move to the actual post...

For summer reading this year, I had to read two books.  One of them is Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I'm on page 74, and its pretty good.  It's just a little slow and difficult to follow.  Then again, It is a classic.  I think I got to like Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes way too much.  ALL THE SASS.  BBC has ruined me.

The second book I read was Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  RUTA SEPETYS *FANGIRLING*.  Her writing style is beautiful.  I just -- *sighs* -- she's amazing and I can't wait to read The Salt of the Sea, another awesome (well, at least, I'm sure its awesome) book.  First of all, this book is NOT to be confused with Fifty Shades of Gray, which I would probably never read.  Now That I've got that cleared up, here's my review.

Book Details

Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?  That morning, my brother's life was worth a pocket watch.

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.

My Review

This book is beautifully written.  The message presented is inspiring, and I am 100% sure you will cry.  PERIOD.  Crying is going to happen.  Accept it.  THIS BOOK IS SO EMOTIONALLY TRAUMATIZING (IN A GOOD WAY).  Moving on... IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL.  Did I already say that?  Well, there it is again.  There was a little questionable content, which you can review at the bottom.

Between Shades of Gray takes place during World War II, destroying the lives of many people.  Most people know the cruelties of WWII through Hitler and the Holocaust, but this book covers the Soviets.  The main characters are from Lithuania, which became part of the Soviet Union under Stalin.  Stalin was much like Hitler -- he deported and sent people to prison and work camps.  I think the author brought to light a matter that very few people remember in WWII.

Characters. The author took two trips to Lithuania to research the book.  Now that's dedication.  Many of the characters are based off of the experiences of real people.  AND SHE DID A GREAT JOB PORTRAYING THEM.  They were so real.  I cried with them (soooo many times), laughed with them, grimaced in pain with them, and sympathized for them.

The main character, Lina, was so real.  She was the perfect picture of how someone would react to being taken from their home, loaded on a train car with over fifty other people, and forced into work camps in brutal living conditions.

One of my favorite parts about Lina's character was her drawing.  She used drawing as a way to express her emotions and feelings about the terrible events in her life.  THE MANY TERRIBLE THINGS.  *cough* Death *cough*.  Being an artist myself, I admired her creativity and expression.  My style is expressive and emotional (or at least I aspire to this being my style).  I loved how she held nothing back in her drawings and just let the lines form something beautiful. She wasn't afraid to show herself through her art.  Lina is just like me... we're like twins.  *Spoilers in white*  I especially liked when she gave Andrius her drawings.  Like sooooo sweet.  I need a ship name for them.  NOW.

Oh my goodness, Andrius!  I started out not liking him (just like Lina) and slowly grew to adore him.  I SHIP THEM SO HARD.  *Spoilers in white* When they were separated, I had to put the book down and go cry in a corner for ten whole minutes.  It was dreadful.  You can't just create a whole romance and then split them up when they start falling in love.  That defies the laws of writing.  I MEAN, HOW DARE YOU RUTA SEPETYS???  ARE YOU TRYING TO TORTURE ME???  *slams fingers on keys*  <<< Sorry for my excessive venting over the ship *blushes*.  I wasn't planning on writing any spoilers in this review, but I just couldn't help myself.  Does anyone agree with me over Ruta Sepetys' heartlessness?  She just kills characters and gives you zero time to recover.  *collapses*  I CAN'T HANDLE THAT.  Except I love it.  I make no sense.  *flails*  I want to give them both a big hug.

Thank you all for dealing with the large blank space... and especially those who had to resist the temptation of reading the spoilers before you read the book.  Now where was I?

Oh, right.  Characters.  Jonas.  His character development is superb.  At first, I see him as the perfect picture of a 10-year-old little brother.  By the end, even though just a year and a half have passed, he is like a man.  He grows up so quickly (which makes me a little sad, but just a pinch), as I would expect someone in his situation.  He's such a likable character. :D

Everyone else.  *cries* *cries some more*  MY LIPS ARE SEALED.  Mwahahahaha.

Plot.  Ruta Sepetys has no mercy.  As I already mentions about 300,000 times, this book is sad.  Ruta Sepetys isn't afraid to kill off a character, which you most likely grew attached to.  She's insensitive when killing them, too.

I thought the pacing was a little weird at some points in the book and the chapters really short (like an average of 4 pages).  That made it a really quick read.  I'm not sure if I liked that or not.  I don't like endings.  I DON'T LIKE GOODBYES.  Speaking of endings...

The Ending.  THIS BOOK ENDS SO CLIFFHANGER.  Be prepared.  I wasn't.  There are so many leftover strands.  That's all I'm going to say, but if you've read it, you know how I feel.

I had about 20 pages left and this happened:


If I was to wrap this up in a few words they would be...
            BEAUTIFUL           INSPIRING            SAD            TRAUMATIZING  

I give this book four and a half stars.  The only reason is for some content I didn't enjoy as much (listed below).  I would recommend this book for teens and above.  Warning:  This book will leave you emotionally instable for at least a week.  Maybe your life.  BUT, ITS SO WORTH IT.

Questionable Content

There are a few bad words, but I went over them with a black pencil.  Isn't that what those are for?  There is some violence and cruelty as well, but in the book's defense, it does take place during World War II.  The value of human life is worthless to the Soviets.  Enough said?  Some other things that might make readers uncomfortable are when the women line up naked for the bath house in front of guards (who are men).  Although, they had no choice in the matter.  One time, there is a brief moment where the main character is inappropriately touched by a guard.  Lastly, one of the ladies is forced into sleeping with the Soviet guards every night to keep her son alive.  This does not go into any details, except for mentioning the fact that it takes place.

About the Author

Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over fifty countries and thirty-six languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers, international bestsellers, and Carnegie Medal nominees. Salt to the Sea, her latest novel, was an instant bestseller and debuted at #2 on the New York Times list. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over twenty state reading lists, and have been selected for several all-city read programs.

Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Ruta attended college to study opera but instead graduated with a degree in International Finance. Prior to publishing her first novel, she spent twenty years in the music industry helping artists and songwriters distill story through song.

Sepetys is the first American crossover novelist to address both European Parliament and Library of Congress. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Resident Fellowship for Salt to the Sea.

Ruta was recently bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation. She is intensely proud to be Lithuanian, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.

Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.