Monday, August 26, 2013

A Review of 'Between Shades of Gray' by Ruta Sepetys (Audio Book)

"Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941.  She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys.  Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known.  Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia.  Here they are forced under Stalin's order, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-- and at great risk-- documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages 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, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.  Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart."

I think this is my first audio book of the year.  I'm not sure why I keep forgetting about this form of reading... it's rather convenient!  I've been listening to audio books while I work this summer while I've been working.  It's great!

This is probably one of the more interesting books I've read this summer.  It takes place in Lithuania and Siberia during World War II.  I like this book because instead of reading from the perspective of someone under Hitler's power (I've read many books like this), this is written from the perspective of someone under Stalin's control.  It's a side of the war that I'm not very familiar with and a side that often flies under the radar (especially when Hitler gets most of the attention).  I still don't really know what happened, but this book has inspired me to try and learn more.

One of the more extreme jolts that I had while reading this book was that it seemed like Lina and the other prisoners were relatively okay with Hitler invading Russia.  I was sitting in my bed thinking, "Hitler's bad too!!!"  I'm not sure what situation would be worse to be in... was Stalin worse than Hitler?  Where does Mussolini fall?  Does is matter enough to have varying degrees of awful?

One thing the author highlighted for me at the end of the audio book was that she tried to emphasize the positive moments in her book.  These people were being overworked and they were starving and slowly dying, but they had a decent number of potatoes for dinner at times.  Sometimes they met someone who was willing to help them (including some of the Russian people overworking them).

The recording was not my favorite.  I listened to the recording for long periods of time each time I sat down to listen.  Her voice just didn't sit well with me after a while.  I don't know if the characters became too whiny or if her voice was too breathy... I don't know what it is, but it didn't feel like it worked for me and it didn't feel like it worked for the characters in the story either.

This is really an interesting part of World War II and I intend to explore it further.  This book will be good for the history buffs and those who are looking for something a little darker to read.

I give 'Between Shades of Gray':
Thanks for Reading!


1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed being exposed to a different facet of WWII through this book-I had never thought much about the Baltic states because in America, it's always Germany and Japan that are emphasized. So grateful for the new learning opportunity!


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