Book Review

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction
Length: 344 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

INFORMATIVE.

I did find enthralled in the story, but I struggled with some pieces of it.

This was intense and informative to other parts of World War 2 that I am less familiar with. I like that it tackled the Baltic countries and what the Soviet Union was doing to oppress them and trying to make them disappear. It was heart-breaking and I struggled to read through a lot of it.

But I did feel like this lacked a plot. Lina’s painful journey was just that, a painful journey. There was a repeat of events that really emphasized how pretty this book isn’t. I wish there was a little more development with Andrius to really solidify the side romance occurring.

What I felt on another level was Lina’s Mom. The way she cared for her children and even took time to show love to those around her really melted me. The strength and resilience she gave to others clearly was in Lina as well. Lina was courageous and tough as she dealt with trial after trial.

I didn’t love how abrupt the ending was. I turned the next page and all of a sudden I was in an epilogue years later. I wish there was a bit more of a conclusion or a general sense of the situation coming to a close.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: murder, gun violence, physical altercations; bloody/gory; depictions of wartime, abandonment
  • Trigger warnings: brief sexual harassment, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction
Length: 346 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: February 12th, 2013
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

UNIQUE SETTING.

Okay, time to break the news.

This is not one of my favorite books by Sepetys. I’m still catching up on her backlist titles and was hoping this would be another hit, but was left wanting so much more.

I didn’t think the plot was big enough. It was mostly a focus on Josie trying to get into college (which isn’t the most exciting thing ever). Her life has a lot of craziness to it and while it bled over into her decisions and overall choices it was taken down by the LACK OF COMMUNICATION.

Oh goodness, drives me up a wall when everything could be easily fixed by a simple sentence. This was the case for Josie. I loved her tenacity, braveness, and desire to rise above what her mother has put her through. I wish she would have just told others about what was happening. By hiding it to further the story it made things drag out.

I also wish the romance would have been taken out too. Or had more added to it. There wasn’t much background on the two suitors and things would randomly happen between them without build-up. I was left desperately begging for more between them and wish there was more follow through.

I do love how easy Sepetys books are to read. They are quick, shorter chapters and make me want to read them. I love that this book is focused on 1950s New Orleans. Such a unique time period choice for historical fiction (which was an initial reason I wanted to read it). The flavors and history of the French Quarter really came alive through the writing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: murder, poison, physical, manipulation

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