It isn't often that I begin writing a review with trepidation and insecurities, thinking that my thoughts and feelings can't possibly do the book just...moreIt isn't often that I begin writing a review with trepidation and insecurities, thinking that my thoughts and feelings can't possibly do the book justice. This isn't because I have a great esteem for myself; no, it is because, while a lot of what I read I enjoy, I'm not fooling myself into thinking that the majority of it is what most would consider quality literature. It is with those kinds of books that I figure that whatever I type should suffice. But there are those times, like when I reviewed Emma and Jellicoe Road not so long ago, that I get nervous. This is another of those times.
I've always had a fascination with books and things set in this era. And I won't lie — that had a large influence in me loving this book. This is the kind of book that I can slip into like a warm fleece on a cold winter's night and feel cozy and comforted in. But I think most would agree that there is something special about this diamond in the rough.
The Raging Quiet is a true hidden gem. It snared my attention from the first chapter and surpassed any level of expectations I could've had going in. The characters are so rich and real and believable in their pain and love and loss and joy that I know I shall never forget them. I wept for Marnie, I was grateful for the priest's charity and kindness to two lost souls, and the boy without the blessing of sound stole my heart.
The subject of religion is handled perfectly IMO; it doesn't preach to non-believers, nor does it offend believers. Marnie is religious, but she has her struggles with God because of the terrible things she goes through in such a short time. The priest that helps Marnie and Raven isn't portrayed as a saint, but merely a spiritually faithful man with faults. And there isn't any explicit content, but the author doesn't refrain from dealing with tough subjects, either.
Sadly, this book doesn't seem to be receiving much recognition around these parts. But it is twelve years old and, although to me it is simple yet beautiful and fits the story perfectly, the cover is no longer in vogue; it is not flashy and bedazzled enough to catch the eye of most readers in today's market. It is my hope that I can bring this book at least a small portion of the attention it deserves.(less)
If you know me then you know I love books set in this period. For that reason and others, I believed I would enjoy this. I wanted to enjoy this, I tru...moreIf you know me then you know I love books set in this period. For that reason and others, I believed I would enjoy this. I wanted to enjoy this, I truly did. The premise sounded good; the prologue, however strange, intrigued me. But it didn't take long for me to realize that I wouldn't be able to read over 300 pages of Briony's narrative. It is undoubtedly the strangest I've ever come across. So strange, in fact, that I'm not sure I can describe it properly. It's like an odd mix of pessimism, self-hatred (which I'm sure is explained and turned around later on), and dreariness (although to be far, the book itself seemed to have a rather dreary atmosphere from what I read). Sprinkle on some idiosyncrasies and a mother-hen mentality due to her sister's issues and you've got Briony Larkin. I'm not saying that any of this is bad, it's just not for me. I prefer to be able to connect with the main character, perhaps even relate to him/her in some way. It didn't take me long to figure out that that is impossible for me with Briony.
Based on my own taste and experience, I can't recommend this; but I can't not recommend it, either. I saw a lot of potential in the story, and I'm sure a lot of people would really enjoy Chime. I recommend picking this up from your library — rather than purchasing it — if you're interested.
Note: My default rating for books I can't finish is one star, but I recognize that the writing was good and therefore I'm going with one and a half with a round up of two.(less)
As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to read this novel. Between Shades of Gray isn't the type of book I'd normally read,...moreActual rating: 4.5 stars
As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to read this novel. Between Shades of Gray isn't the type of book I'd normally read, but I'm extremely glad that I decided to read it.
Lina is a very strong and courageous character. Despite the situation Lina is placed in at the young age of fifteen, she audaciously chooses to write about the terrible cruelties the Soviets are doing to those around her as well as her family and herself. Lina is an artist, and she uses this talent to depict the ghastly scenes she's forces to witness on a daily basis. She then hides her drawings where the NKVD, hopefully, won't find them. In this she hopes that, one day, someone will find the proof of what really occurred, and make sure that it never happens again.
I'm going to warn you, a good deal of this book is very grim and Sepetys doesn't cover up the horrors that were committed against these innocent people with euphemisms. There are quite a few shocking, disturbing, and graphic scenes in this. You'll probably want to read something light and fluffy after finishing it. But much like the title of the book and the fledging plant sprouting up from the ice covered landscape on the book's cover signifies hope, the author does a wonderful job of incorporating snippets of hope even through the most grim of times for her characters.
Interspersed with Lina's time in the slavery camps, there are bittersweet flashbacks to Lina's life before her and her family were taken by the Soviets. I think they helped to break up the scenes of abuse and heartache, making the novel more palatable to the reader. There is also a light romance in this that is both sweet and a welcome addition to a story such as this.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "I shut the bathroom door and caught sight of my face in the mirror. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade."
Ruta Sepetys' writing is erudite, yet simple, and it flows very well. I just hope that this isn't one of those one-hit-wonder cases where the author has one story to tell and never writes anything again. I'd really like to read more from Sepetys, whether it be more stories such as this, or something completely different.
On a side note, the finished, physical copy of this (I say it in this way because some people probably have an ARC or an ebook) is quite gorgeous. The jacket seems to be made of recycled paper, so it has a very natural, rustic look and feel to it. And it has deckled edges, my favorite. :)
I think this is one of those books that will be highly praised by some (like myself), and sadly overlooked by others. It's easy to be distracted by the deluge of YA paranormal novels with the pretty covers and the pomp and heavy promotion, but, I assure you, Between Shades of Gray is more than worth your reading time.
This book reminds me just how fortunate I am to be born in the era and country that I was, and I found it very humbling. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it, and I highly recommend it.(less)