Finished: January 9, 2012
Pages: 344 (ARC)
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Add It: Goodreads
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin)
Source: Giveaway - Thanks to Penguin!
Read an excerpt of Between Shades of Gray here.
Quote: “My breathing slowed. I shaded her thick chestnut hair resting in a smooth curve against her face, a large bruise blazing across her cheek. I paused, looking over my shoulder to make certain I was alone. I drew her eye makeup, smudged by tears. In her watery eyes I drew the reflection of the commander, standing in front of her, his fist clenched. I continued to sketch, exhaled, and shook out my hands.”
Cover Love: I actually think this cover is too light for the story within. I understand that it represents the hope to be found in this situation but it just didn't appeal to me as a reader.
Thoughts: Between Shades of Gray is a very important story. It's a story that needs to be told. These people and what they lost needs to be remembered.
I wasn't entirely sure how to rate this. While being a very important book, one that I did connect with emotionally, it didn't quite hit me the same way other books set during World War 2 have. During the official book trailer the author jokes about the original book being so dark that it required a lot of revisions, that originally it was even darker than Wuthering Heights, but I actually suspect that I would have loved that original edit more. While this book IS horrific (it absolutely is - don't get me wrong) it seemed like it held back from going to certain depths. That was a horrible time and no doubt it was even more horrific than this terrible fictionalized account shows. I just wish that whatever was darker about the original edits had stayed because no matter how horrible, we unfortunately can't edit history to make it easier to stomach, and I'm not sure how I feel about lightening up a story about it either. The things that happened to these people were awful, and I imagine even worse than Lina's story would imply. I understand the need to make sure there was hope present in the story; but I think that hope would have had an even greater impact in a darker story.
I absolutely loved that Lina was an artist. The story of artists during this time is just heartbreaking. The things that humans will do to get their story out there when people are attempting to silence them... Forget heroes in the dystopia novels of the fictionalized future, we can find the real heroes in our very own past.
This book was in fact a very short read. It flew by in no time at all, and I felt like I wasn't given enough time to really connect to the story like I wanted to. Despite the page count a lot of the pages were only half pages when preparing to end a chapter. With a lot of different chapter breaks and short chapters I think this made for a lot less material than it would seem?
In any case, the story is important, because it brings light to the real people who suffered these tragedies. It broke my heart, to see the way these characters were treated, and to imagine it being even worse than what our fictional Lina had to go through. These are things we can't afford to forget. I will recommend this book to others.
Recommendation: Everyone who doesn't know about this part of history.
Three out of Five Coffees
Between Shades of Gray is on sale now in paperback. You can purchase it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository and other retailers.