"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What I'm Reading: BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

Danny Woodfill, owner of one of our local indie bookstores, The Book Spot, contacted me to let me know that Ruta Sepetys was coming to speak at a local high school and did I want to come meet her and see her talk.

Um, yes.

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, March 22, 2011)

Let me go into this saying that...

1) I knew absolutely nothing about Ruta Sepetys.
2) I knew absolutely nothing about BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY aside from the fact that it had been on the bestseller list for a long time and had a name very similar to an erotica book :)

But I actually adore watching other authors speak, so I headed to Round Rock High School to check it out.

Now, here are my thoughts...

First, Ruta herself is amazing. I mean, she went from talking about the xBox to talking about Lithuanians under Stalin and left everyone in the audience wondering how that had just happened. Her speech was moving and filled with emotion and incredible. Impressing high school students is not an easy thing to do, and yet she did it masterfully.
In short, if you can ever go hear Ruta speak, do it immediately.

Second, Ruta was such a nice person. I mean genuinely nice. Like I have a major girl-crush on her kind of nice. She talked about how honored she was to meet me (seriously) and how she couldn't wait to read my book.
In short, if you ever get a chance to meet Ruta, do it.

(L to R) Jessica Lee Anderson, Ruta, and Me

Third, let's talk about the book. I talk about every book I finish here on the blog, and if I've finished a book, then I generally have nice things to say about it. But BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY goes on my absolutely must read list. Middle school kids, high school kids, or adults. This book should not be missed. It was so real and yet so well done for a younger crowd. I am awed.

In short, if you buy one book this year, make it SOLSTICE (sorry for the shameless self-promotion!). If you buy two books this year, make them SOLSTICE and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.

Have I convinced you?

Source of book: Purchased


About the 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 orders, 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.


Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't read this one, but I really enjoyed Out of the Easy, which I recently read. And of course, I loved Solstice.

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

I really appreciate your review on this. When I saw the cover at Hastings, I thought it was a " junior" version of 50 Shades! Silly me - sounds like a great story to share with teens.

PJ Hoover said...

Ah, Natalie, you totally should read it. I want to read Out of the Easy now. And thank you for the SOLSTICE love! :)

Hey Leah, I thought this exact same thing which is why I never picked it up for so long. I'm so glad I did!