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A Million Shades of Gray

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  985 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
A boy and his elephant escape into the jungle when the Viet Cong attack his village immediately after the Vietnam war.
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published September 8th 2009)
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Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Subtracted a star for that meh ending.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: multi-cultural
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 9-12 year olds
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

I have been going through the reviews to see if anybody read between the lines as I did, and from the few I've read it doesn't seem like it. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but this is what I've noticed:

Tomas = Foreign Interference
Y'Tin - South or North Vietnam
Y'Juen - South or North Vietnam

The relationship between the three change drastically as they travel through the jungle. Y'Juen and Y'Tin grew up together, best friends, etc. They even escape the villag
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata is the touching story of an elephant handler, Y’Tin’s life during the Vietnam war.

For young Y’Tin, war was all that ever happened. There had been a war raging during his entire life. Even so, the war had always seemed far away from his peaceful village in South Vietnam. All until one frightful day when Y’Tin, his friends and village are captured by the North Vietnamese. Y’Tin is separated from his beloved elephant, Lady, and his family.
Logan Mooberry
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was really excited to read this book for two reasons: it was written by a Newbery Award winner and it centers around a young adolescent boy in rural Vietnam immediately following the Vietnam War. However, I do not think either of those qualities of the book lived up to my expectations.

The plot and character development are scant--even for a novel of only 200 pages. I really wanted to connect with Y'Tin, the main character. I wanted to feel his anger and resentment toward the American soldiers
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I recently read a book "A Million Shades of Gray" by Cynthia Kadohata. The genre of this book is historical fiction and it was 224 pages. This book is about a boy named Y-Tin trying to find his way through the time of the Vietnam War in Vietnam with his elephants. I thought this book was very powerful because it showed me how much I take for granted every day. I would rate this book 8. My favorite character was Y-Tin because he was very brave during tough times in his life. One problem he encoun ...more
Dec 04, 2012 added it
Kadohata, Cynthia. (2010). A Million Shades of Gray. New York: Simon and Schuster/Atheneum. 216 pp. ISBN 978-1-4169-1883-7 (Hard Cover); $16.99.

Y’Tin dreams of training elephants but this is Viet Nam and his father has been abandoned by the American Special forces with whom he worked. The Dega people and elephants face massacre by the Vietcong so Y’Tin and Lady, the elephant, begin a long and dangerous journey to Thailand.

Kadohata explores Viet Nam with her book Cracker: The Best Dog in Viet Nam
Feb 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Kind of dissapointed by this one. Great start and a unique setting for YA lit. The Americans have left South Vietnam and the North are invading. Y'Tin's villiage must flee to the jungle in fear for retribution for their assistance to the Americans. Y'Tin flees with his elephant but learns that the jungle can make things seem crazy. Didn't like the way it ended abruptly. I would have like to read more about his village's struggles in the jungle. Did like the way the elephants were described and s ...more
Adrianne Snyder
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
this is a good book about a boy in a Vietanameese village during the Vietnam war. the people train elephants for use in transporting and harvesting wood and items. the main character boy has dreamed of being an elephant handler all his life, and is finaly accepted into the group of handlers. he gets an elephant of his own and has lots of fun with her. ill leave the rest to you to find out for your selvs, but its a pretty good book. some things are strange, and it can be confusing, but its a pret ...more
'A Million Shades of Grey' provides a nice little introduction to the Vietnam War from a young boy's perspective. Y'Tin is a gentle protagonist with an authentic voice trying to survive the arrival of the Vietcongs. Lady, the elephant Y'Tin trains makes a beautiful companion and the relationship between the boy and his elephant is touching. Even though the plot is rather slow in places, this is still an interesting coming of age story.
Edward Sullivan
May 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vietnam
Wonderful, moving story set in Vietnam at the close of the North/South conflict.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I would have felt so much more about it if well if it had not been so hurried. I rally liked it but I feel like she was trying to make it really short but it really should have been more stretched out at parts and it has just to much emotion in one spot so that if you miss it you don't get any. At least that is how I saw it because I really would have absoulutly loved it if she had maybye evn a bit less feeling and longer. SO I feel like it is the opposite of The Secret Keepers, like there was t ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked Y-Tin and his family and learned something about their culture and superstitions and the elephants in Vietnam. I was saddened at the idea that such a young boy would think he would need to fight the Vietcong, but that's probably more realistic than my fantasy of him escaping with the elephants to Thailand.
Jackson Kinsler
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It gave a very good description on how life was in time of war. If I had to change one thing about this book, it would be to give more details at the ending instead of the extra stuff in the middle. But, overall an outstanding novel.
Andrew Charles
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
You will get as attached to Y'Tin as he is to his elephants. Great story involving love for unlikely friendships, betrayal, uncertainty, and an ending leaving you without immediate closure.
710gus Krumpus
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed seeing this more neutral perspective of the Vietnam War. Some of the characters were very deep.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea how emotionally involved I would become in this book. It is a great read!
Nibras Alsalem
Touching story!
Jeannie Mancini
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
In the Central Highlands of Southern Vietnam live the Dega tribes, Vietnamese village farmers and elephant keepers. 13 year old Y'Tin is the youngest animal trainer of his kind and his charge is his beloved elephant named Lady.

Set soon after the Americans pull out of the Vietnam War in 1975, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese are still soldiering in to combat the Southern Vietnamese, breaking the established Paris Peace Accord agreement. Y'Tin's village is ambushed, threatening the lives of
Bernie Gourley
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This young adult (YA) novel is set in the Central Highlands of Vietnam during the last few years of the war. The lead character, Y’tin, is an adolescent whose life ambition is to be an elephant handler, a dream which he’s well on the way to achieving and which he’d be a shoe in for if he didn’t live in war-torn times. His life is complicated by the fact that his father has worked for the American Special Forces (as a tracker), and the war is turning in the favor of the North.

When US forces withd
mitchell k dwyer
Jun 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I didn't know there were tribal agrarian peoples in Vietnam who were not officially involved in the war. I don't think I'm especially ignorant about these things, so I admit I was surprised to learn about the Rhade people, a tribe in the southern part of that country, some of whom helped American Special Forces to navigate the Vietnam jungles.

This is the best thing Cynthia Kadohata's A Million Shades of Gray has going for it. The story of Y'Tin, a young elephant handler who longs to quit school
Ellory Liles
This book was a very heartwarming story. The reader feels a connection with the characters throughout the story. Kadohata did a good job of making the book interesting. She used good words, description, and a well thought out plot line. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend this.
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
"Sometimes, without even thinking about it, you step over a line, and on the other side of that line you find you've stepped into a situation you didn't want."

A Million Shades of Gray, P. 175

I always eagerly await any new literary offering from Cynthia Kadohata, and following on the heels of her fantastic 2008 book Outside Beauty, my anticipation for A Million Shades of Gray certainly was high.

Cynthia Kadohata takes us back to a time in Vietnam just a couple of years after American involvem
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile
In Cynthia Kadohata’s new novel, A Million Shades of Gray, Kadohata reveals the story of Y’Tin, a 13 year old boy who dreams of becoming an elephant trainer, and the hardships that he faces in his remote Southern Vietnam village. Y’Tin’s story takes place a few years after the Americans left South Vietnam and focuses on the trepidation and fear the villagers face. Y’Tin’s main focus in life is to become the youngest elephant trainer and maybe one day open his own training school. The effects of ...more
Andrea Wickenhagen
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In a small village at the heart of the Central Highlands of South Vietnam lived a boy named Y’Tin Eban. The majestic animal of his people, the elephant, fascinated him. All he wanted in life was to become an elephant handle. Y’Tins dreams came true when he became one of the youngest handlers among his village at age thirteen. Watching over Lady was the best part of his life, she taught him patience, responsibility, love, and friendship. The story is set back in 1975 during the time of war betwee ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Y’Tin was an 11-year-old boy who strived to become an elephant handler, who hated school and looked after his elephant Lady in his tribe Rhade remote from the worst of American War (Vietnam War from local Southern Vietnamese viewpoint). Y-Tin’s father and several other tribesmen worked closely with the American Special Forces and were considered guilty by Northern Vietnamese afterward when Americans left, and Northern Vietnamese overran Y’Tin’s village by abusing and massacring innocent tribesme ...more
Jenny / Wondrous Reads
Before reading A Million Shades of Grey, I didn't really know a lot about the Vietnam War. I didn't know the politics or reasoning behind it, or the extent of the horrors that people experienced. Kadohata ended up giving me a history lesson of sorts, and for that reason alone, I'm glad I read this book.

Y'Tin's tale is one of bravery and hope, and is as much a coming of age story as it is an adventure. Nothing makes a boy grow up like being in the middle of a war and, as horrific as it is, the wh
Dec 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is a terrible book. It is plain boring. The narrator's tone is flat. There is no suspense. The characters are forgettable. Even the protagonist has no special characteristics. Everything is predictable. So main character's whole world was torned apart because of the war and then he decided move to Thailand, that's it? What was the point in writing it? Oh yeah, to paint a nice picture of the Americans and maybe get some $$ for it. What pissed me off the most is not how much time I had wasted ...more
Hannah Norton
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A million shades of Grey was basically about a young boy who is 12 and is obsessed with elephants. He was also known as the youngest elephant trainer. His first elephant was Lady and she was pregnant. They both loved each other. Y'tins dad worked with the Americans at one point. During the time, there was war between North and South Vietnam. At there village they were invaded by the North. Y'tin was riding on lady and looked back and thought he saw his sister there. He told his friend Tomas to t ...more
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Cynthia Kadohata is a Japanese American writer known for writing coming of age stories about Asian American women.

She spent her early childhood in the South; both her first adult novel and first children's novel take place in Southern states. Her first adult novel was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Her first children's book, Kira-Kira, won the 2005 Newbery Medal. Her first published s
More about Cynthia Kadohata...

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“The jungle changes a man.” 1 likes
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