Between Shades of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray (audiobook)

by Ruta Sepetys

 

Between Shades of Gray is a companion novel to Salt to the Sea.  This novel is from the point of view of Lina from Lithuania.  She is Joana’s cousin.  In flashbacks, we learn about their close relationship; nearly sisters.  Lina is rounded up with her mother and brother (her father being previously taken) and put into a train car, shipped off by the Russians.  She isn’t sure why (we later find out how she was discovered).  Along the way, she meets several others, including a young man named Andrius.  They are sent to Siberia, and suffer through many years in a labor camp.  Her mother Elena befriends one of the soldiers, and Lina learns she isn’t the only one who is suffering through this war.

What I liked about this book was that we learn another perspective of World War II that we might not hear about.  I didn’t know about people being sent to Siberia, but this showed me more about how horrible it was.  Most people only think of the concentration camps, but this taught me how badly they suffered in other camps.  It was also painful not to know where your loved ones were.  And oh man- to have bodies strewn about, and the wild animals coming at them.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I loved Salt to the Sea, and this one just wasn’t as good.  It was good, but if I’d read it first, I would have liked it a lot more.  I think one thing I wanted was for the romantic connection to be stronger like it was with Joana.  Still a good read, though!

Book 43 of 40

(Book 9 of 2018)

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Salt to the Sea

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Salt to the Sea (ebook)

by Ruta Sepetys

 

Salt to the Sea… so good!  I had heard of this book, seen the cover, etc., and finally decided to read it when I saw it was on my husband’s high school’s potential summer reading list.  (To clarify… he’s a teacher, not a high school student.)  Although I’m madly trying to read all of the notable 2017 books before the ALA awards, I paused to read this one, and I’m so glad I did.

This book is told from four different points of view.  Joana is a Lithuanian nurse, Emilia is a 15 year old Polish girl, Florian is a 19ish year old who restores art, and Alfred is a German sailor.  Joana and Emilia are refugees escaping the Russians, and Florian has stolen an important piece of art in retaliation against his boss, who is just under Hitler himself.  Alfred appears to be a dim-witted, brainwashed Nazi who writes mental letters to the girl next door about how important he is, although we see through the story, he is the lowest on the totem pole.  They travel together to board a boat of refugees escaping the war, along with the shoe poet, a large woman, and an orphan named Klaus.  This is a snapshot of one group of people- refugees of world war II, displaced due to the Nazis and Soviets closing in on their homes.

What I liked about this book was… everything.  I really enjoyed this book.  I’ve read that Sepetys writes about the untold stories, the ones we’ve never heard of.  The fictional refugees in the story board a doomed boat, and it was a boat that really did sink with nearly 10,000 refugees aboard in 1945.  I really liked the chemistry between Joana and Florian, and I could see it becoming a movie someday.  This book reminded me of The Book Thief, and anyone who’s asked me for a recommendation should know my feelings on that book.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I felt like the ending was abrupt.  There was a chapter of many years later, but I wanted another book to tell me about the many years after.  I also felt the beginning could be confusing for someone who didn’t have the patience to learn the characters right away.

Book 33 of 40