Monday evening, I bawled through the last pages of Between Shades of Gray. This is not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey. The latter book I have never read, and never will. Between Shades of Gray was published first, and, in my opinion, should be more popular. After reading this book, I found on the author’s facebook page that it is being turned into a movie. The movie will be titled Ashes in the Snow. Most likely the title was changed to avoid confusion. A movie cannot possibly do this book justice, but I’m excited anyway. And hey! Movies are basically two hour trailers for the book, right?
Ruta Sepetys was inspired to write Between Shades of Gray when she was researching her Lithuanian heritage. During World War II, the Soviets had deported people from Lithuania to work camps in Siberia.
It is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time, but also one of the most hopeful. I think that was something that made this book stand out. Lina, the main character, could find hope even in the darkest circumstances.
I am not one to write in my books, or mark quotes. Perhaps this is because I borrow so many of my books from the library. And Between Shades of Gray is a library book. I wish it wasn’t. I wish it was mine and I could write in it! Instead I resorted to post-it notes.
The writing style is just beautiful. I wish I could write like that! I was trying to pay attention to why I loved the writing so much. Maybe I could learn from it. Ruta Sepetys writes very lyrical. While I find that I don’t care for books in verse, I do like lyrical writing styles. Sometimes I try to write like this, but it ends up being too overbearingly descriptive.
Ruta Sepetys had balanced writing. Not too lyrical, not too simple. Just a perfect blend of both. I was struck by this on page 124 with the quote, “Blisters wept on my hands. Our fingers were caked with dirt.” The first sentence personifies the blisters on her hands. Lyrical. The second sentence simply states the condition of the dirt on her hands. Now, if I were writing, I would have tried to make the second sentence lyrical as well. But that is not really necessary. The story needs a balance of both to keep the writing from being too lyrical or too simplistic. Perhaps this is not the best example in the book, but this is when I realized it.
The story told here is not an easy one to read. There were times, especially when I was reading before bed, that I wanted to read something else, and not focus on the hardships these people had to endure. But it is also a hopeful story. It is a story about standing together and supporting each other. Strangers came together to help one another survive the Siberian winter. I think that is just beautiful.
Because of the subject matter, I’d only recommend this book to older or mature readers. The harsh conditions the characters are forced to live in are not easy to stomach. Other content includes b st rd used less than 5 times. Brief mention of prostitution and brief mention of alcohol consumption and drunkenness.