Book Review – Between Shades of Gray

Book: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Septys

Sometimes when I watch the news and see stories happening to people on the other side of the country or the world, I feel so disassociated. I say to my TV, ‘Oh that is horrible!” and then the next story comes on the TV, I go about my day and the story floats out of my mind. Have you ever read a book like that? One whose words float right through you?

Have you ever read a book that affects you so deeply they turn your dreams into scenes from the book? One whose words float through the air and into your head so that you see the character’s world through their eyes and feel what they feel? That is what reading the book, “Between Shades of Gray” was like for me. Literally. After I closed this book and laid my head down to sleep, my dreams were pervaded with the goriest imagery from Lina’s story. This book made me feel as if I have failed as a human being.

Ugh. The scene with the lice was one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. I would not like to see a depiction of that, but I would love to see Lina’s drawings. Maybe a fan of the book has created a few I haven’t found yet.

One of the things I like best about this book is something I learned only by reading the author’s note at the back of the book. The amount of research Ruta Septys completed for her work is staggering. She went to Lithuania and talked to survivors about their experiences and drew from each of them. Events portrayed in the book happened. To real people. Less than 100 years ago. There are survivors of those atrocities still alive. Knowing that made this book all the more difficult to both put down and digest. Ruta was raw, brutal and gruesome in her imagery and narration of the things Lina and her family and friends endured.

As a lover of history and culture, I was riveted to this book. As a compassionate human being, I was horrified at what they suffered. We all learned about Hitler, the Nazis, and their concentration camps, the Jewish genocide, the ghettos and Anne Frank. There are hundreds of books written about them and I have read quite a few, but this is the first book I’ve read in regards to what Stalin did to the Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians and more.

The ending of this book (and I will NOT spoil it) left me feeling incomplete. The way Septys closed the book left me wanting more, to know more and read more the way all good books do.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The writing is lyrical and beautiful even when depicting some of the most disgusting and brutal imagery. The story is enthralling. The ending made me so intensely sad I cried for hours after closing the book. If you are not moved by Lina’s story, I have one question: are you a robot?

If you like this book, you might like:

Salt to the Sea

Number the Stars

The Diary of Anne Frank

Night

Schlindler’s List

PS. As my mother works for Barnes and Noble, I am strictly a BN girl. The links above will take you to BN, not Amazon, etc.

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Welcome to my world

Have you ever read a book, are dying to talk to someone about it and can’t find anyone who has even heard of it? Welcome to my world. I am a bookworm, bookaholic, bibliophile and I read like a girl. What does that even mean?

Reading like a girl is whatever we (as girls) make it.

It is reading YA in your (eeek!) extra-late twenties and falling for your book boyfriends and shipping so hard for a couple you can’t even deal.

It is reading books you know will make you cry harder than you have in years because you know your life will ultimately be better for having read the story.

It is reading your guilty pleasure, trashy romance novel with scenes so hot steam rises from the pages.

It is reading books about women and men who are making a difference in this world. Movers, shakers, decision makers and thought leaders who are  leaving their mark upon this world and making life better for all humankind.

It is waiting not so patiently for a book to be released, devouring it in one night and then having to wait with breathless anticipation for the next book.

It is standing in line for your favorite author to sign your favorite book of theirs and fangirling over meeting them. (I…umm… have no experience with that one, I swear.)

It is recommending a book to a friend and bonding over your love of the story. Or your hatred of a villian. Or your affection a character. Or your infatuation of a friendship.

It is finding the series that speaks to you or the character you find yourself in, and coming back to her/him over and over again.

It is stumbling upon the book which leaves a mark on your soul. The one that leaves you changed and your world turned inside out.

It is discovering those books that inspire you to do something. To make a difference. To speak up. To stand up. To defend. To define. To leave a better legacy.

Reading like a girl is all of that and so much more.  It is whatever you make it. What does it mean to you?

 

-Girl