On Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

“I clung to my rusted dreams during the times of silence. It was at gunpoint that I fell into every hope and allowed myself to wish from the deepest part of my heart”(page 172).

In Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys tells the story of the Lithuanians who were deported and forced into labor in the 1940s through her narrator Lina, a 15-year-old aspiring artist. The Soviets imprison Lina’s father and take Lina, her younger brother Jonas and her mother from their home in the middle of the night. They join other Lithuanians labeled “thieves and prostitutes” who are actually people who are considered political threats.

Lina and her family struggle to survive beatings, scarce food rations, mental torture and arctic winters. Lina escapes through her art, sketching her experiences and impressions of those who surround her. She must hide the subversive drawings from the vigilant NKVD.

I really liked the character development in this novel.  The characters grow and change, and they aren’t always predictable. Brave characters have moments of weakness; selfish ones show unexpected kindness.

Lina’s mother is definitely the heroine of this story. She’s the best mother, sacrificing everything for her children, encouraging them in the worst of situations. Her compassion towards strangers and even her enemies is inspiring without being nauseating.

 I could barely read the last fifty pages through my tears. So much of this story is heartbreaking, but definitely worth the read. I absolutely loved this novel.

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Teaser Tuesdays 6.28.11

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

“I was beginning to understand why Mother and Father and everyone else was so careful not to allow young men and women next to each other. Beginning to understand how quickly feelings of excitement or longing could get the better of me.” ~ (Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury)

On Bewitching Season

If Jane Austen and J.K. Rowling coauthored a book, they would write something like Bewitching Season . In this novel, seventeen-year-old twins Persephone (Persy) and Penelope (Pen) Leland are about to begin their first London season when their beloved and magical governess, Miss Allardyce, is kidnapped. The Lelands receive a note from Miss Allardyce explaining that she must tend to a family illness. The twins sense that the note is a cover story and start investigating her mysterious disappearance while in the midst of a whirlwind of balls, teas, and suitors.

The novel focuses on Persy, the twin who is more studious and less outgoing. Persy struggles with society’s expectations, self doubt and her feelings for Lochinvar–childhood tormentor turned perfect mate. A lot of the conflict in this novel is Austenesque: misunderstandings arise from lack of communication and the constraints of propriety. These conflicts are alternately frustrating and hilarious.

This novel was a light, fun read, combining two of my favorite genres: fantasy and historical fiction. One of the highlights is that author Marissa Doyle includes a young Queen Victoria as a likable and memorable character.

My best friend gave me this book on New Year’s Eve. I’ll be reading the sequel when she finishes it.

Finished: January 16, 2011