I had really high expectations for this book based on a few reviews I had read. I had never read any Gaiman books, and although I'd decided he probabl...moreI had really high expectations for this book based on a few reviews I had read. I had never read any Gaiman books, and although I'd decided he probably wasn't my cup of tea, I decided to give this a go anyway.
Thoughts? It was a a definite, lukewarm "meh". I really liked the illustrations, but the story seemed rushed and haphazardly slapped together. I really hate that in books! I think children's books are especially hard to write because like short stories, the window you have to involve your audience and make the characters important to them is so small. Needless to say, I had a hard time mustering up empathy for the milk situation. Maybe this isn't the best book to start off with, so I may check out some of his other stuff.(less)
You know what's funny? Lately, it seems like incidents in my life have been coinciding with the books I have been reading. It's made quite a few of th...moreYou know what's funny? Lately, it seems like incidents in my life have been coinciding with the books I have been reading. It's made quite a few of these books so realistic, so much so that I feel like I can empathize with the characters more than I usually do. I know that years from now, I'll be able to look back on those events and relate them to the book I was reading at the time...and that's strangely comforting.
Interestingly enough, while I was in the beginning chapters of Between Shades of Gray, there was a power outage on my block during one of the coldest weeks thus far this year. I awoke to an ice cold room shortly after midnight; the dogs had managed to sneak into my bed at some point earlier. I surveyed the house, and realized that everything I held dear was operated by electricity! I decided there was nothing I could do, so my dogs and I snuggled back under my down blankets to keep warm in my pitch black bedroom, and decided to wait for dawn.
A part of me thought, "No sweat! The power will be back on in the morning in time for me to have a hot shower, coffee, and head to work." Boy was I wrong! By 9:00 am I realized that nothing was going to happen, and that I had to be a big girl and go to work in the state I was, however I was able to manage it. Not being able to use the microwave, make coffee, even boil water (I have an electric stove) was a real eye opener. Wondering if the full refrigerator of groceries I'd bought the day before would spoil, I left the house in a whirlwind of annoyance and fury sans caffeine and an empty stomach.
After finally getting to work (after a quick stop at Starbucks for the much needed java kick), I sat down at my desk to rehearse the drama of my morning in order to put on the most amazing performance for my cubicle neighbors, who would without fail inquire about my lateness...and that's when it hit me! This was at most, an inconvenience that would put me out of about $70 worth of groceries. I sat there thinking about people who were victims of natural disasters and had lost everything, even loved ones. People who have fled their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs because of militia coups were not far from my mind, either. What did I have to complain about?
What does this have to do with a young adult novel set in Lithuania during World War II, you ask? Everything, my friend! Lina, her mother and younger brother are violently taken from their home in 1941 during Stalin's invasion of Lithuania. Separated from her father, the family is herded onto train cars and shipped into the unknown eastern parts of Siberia without any clue of what is in store for them. I am fascinated with history surrounding the World Wars and how it was experienced in different countries, but this whole piece of "silent history" was alien to me! Because of this fact, I too felt like Lina. I had no idea where they were headed, what Stalin's motives were for singling out certain families, or what he intended to do with them, if not outright kill them. It was craziness!
Here I had experienced momentary discomforts like cold, mild hunger, and no light. Can you imagine what these people experienced (I realize that if you haven't read this book, then you can't know the answer to that, lol)?! Despite all of that, the human spirit is so resilient and as a whole the Lithuanian people continue to be some of the most hospitable, happy people despite this sad period of their history. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it. Also, please make sure to check out the author's interview on YouTube about the book and her inspiration for penning it after you read it. Don't go spoiling it, now! (less)