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review 2014-07-26 10:19
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys

I can't really say too much about this book without giving away spoilers...So, I will just give a few of my opinions of how I felt throughout the book...

It was well written and many spots were hard to get through, either because I would get bored, or because things would happen that were sad. The ending was a bit abrupt for me. I would have liked to know what happened to some people. If some family were brought back together or not. But, I was just left wondering....

I can say though that this book has opened my eyes about Josef Stalin...I heard very little about im throughout my life...So, I can say that this book will have me doing a little research about him and some of the things he and his "minions" did to people. The little bit I did do, I noticed that, like people who support Hitler, Stalin has his supporters as well...and I guess people have their right to believe and support who they choose...It makes me wonder why sometimes though...But at the same time, do I really want to know the answers to that question?!?! I don't know. 

But for those that like historical fiction, especially around Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and even Soviet Russia...This may be a great fictional book to pick up. She seemed to have done her research on this book. Although I do not know much about what took place...The little I do know, Ruta Sepetys seemed to have known what she was writing about. Once I do look more into it, I will be able to look back on this book and say: Yes, she did a great job..or, Well, she did good but....

But, not matter what, this book was worth the read...I'm not really big on sad books, but sometimes, if I know what I'm getting into, and they are well written, I will read them from time to time...And I am glad I did pick this one up (although I had to put it down a couple times over the last couple weeks because it was hard to get through)...It gave me something else to look into and learn about! :-)

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review 2014-02-11 04:34
Between Shades of Gray
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys

Oh man, this novel is so depressing yet filled with hope at the same time.  It is much like One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich except that it does not cover just one day, and the narrator is a teenage Lithuanian girl who is deported with her family.  The hardships she recounts are increasingly difficult to bear.  Lina, her brother, and her mother are sent to a farm labor camp somewhere in a remote area of Russia along with hundreds of other deportees from various countries.  Her father is sent to a Russian prison.  The conditions are fairly primitive, the labor is hard and food is extremely scarce.  But as bad as conditions are, it can always get worse. 

 

 Soviet labor camps had slightly better conditions than Nazi concentration camps but not much.  This novel takes place during 1941-42, so the events are simultaneous with the Holocaust.  We’ve always heard “Never Again” in regard to the Holocaust, but we need to include labor camps in that sentiment.  These people were deported only because they committed crimes like having a profession such as doctor or teacher or attorney, helping others escape deportation, being the wrong ethnicity, refusing to cooperate with the Soviet regime, and so on.  Lina, her family and the other deportees were considered criminals and many were coerced into signing confessions of their “crimes” with a sentence of twenty years in the camps.  Lina’s brother was ten years old and others in the camp were even younger.  Age did not make a difference when being sentenced as a criminal against the state.

 

 Lina’s story is fiction, but the kinds of things that occur in the novel are based on real events.  The author did extensive research and spoke with numerous former deportees.  Thousands of people were deported and many died in either prison or labor camps.  Thousands of people who currently live in countries formerly annexed by the Soviet Union have no idea what happened to some of their family.  Many deportees just disappeared, never to be heard from again.  This is a part of history that I was not totally unaware of, but we hear very little if any about it in our history classes in the US.  So as noted before, the story is depressing and hard to bear.  But young people especially need to hear this story, and Lina is a narrator that they can understand and hopefully empathize with

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review 2010-07-16 00:00
Daemon in Lithuania
Daemon in Lithuania - Henri Guigonnat A bizarrely comic, cheerful and slightly perverse story set in an imaginary eastern Europe; a cat the size of a huge dog, whose mesmerizing beauty and imperious personality dominate and enchant everyone, is only the most central of many strangenesses. I finished the book laughing and grinning, and willing to think that the narrator's joy makes up for the uneasy undertones of his experiences.
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review 2009-08-03 00:00
Light One Candle: A Survivor's Tale from Lithuania to Jerusalem - Solly Ganor Lithuania. Ganor's Holocaust narrative takes place primarily in villages and ghettos, providing a useful contrast to memoirs that primarily describe life in the camps. Ganor has some access to the outside world and at many points is able to comment on the relations between the Jewish captives and the communities within or near which their confinement takes place. Though most of the non-Jewish citizens in his account are not sympathetic, there are more than in many Holocaust narratives. Ganor frames his otherwise chronological and straightforward story with two meetings with the U.S. Nisei (2nd generation Japanese) soldier who rescued him. He also punctuates his own story with this soldier's. It's the first book I've read by a Jewish Holocaust survivor that names the existence of U.S. internment camps for citizens of Japanese ancestry or origin. I appreciated reading a Jewish narrative that also accounted for a Japanese-American soldier's, though from a purely literary perspective it wasn't as successful as it might have been.Recently I've read a number of accounts of genocide in Asia, Africa, South America, and Oceania. In conjunction with Ganor, these remind me that we are all ready to dehumanize and kill each other with little provocation; the unique horrors of the Nazi approach are its scale and mechanized, sanitized nature.Read with Gilbert Tuhabonye's This Voice in My Heart: A Runner's Memoir of Genocide, Faith, and Forgiveness to compare an African genocide to the European, and with Lauren Kessler's excellent Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family to learn more about internment and its effects on one Japanese-American family.
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