Between Shades of Gray Made Me Want to Know Things

I remembered what I’d been thinking about blogging about (yes, English is my first and only language), and it wasn’t 2015 OR 2016! It was a terrible book review! As in, the book is great, the review is not.

I recently finished BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys. It was good. I had to keep myself from weeping in public multiple times. Not so much when people died, but when people were unexpectedly kind. Like, “oh, you died? Bummer, dude. Oh, you were an awful and terrible person but you shared your very small ration of bread with me? Excuse me while I weep.”

Anyway, so point is, I liked the book. I liked the characters. (Andrius!!! Guys!!) But what I liked most was that it introduced me to a part of history I’m not super familiar with (which, to be honest, is a lot of history). This Lithuanian family is taken from their home in the middle of the night and wind up in a work camp in freaking Siberia, under orders of Stalin. The only thing I know about Stalin’s regime is that he was actually pretty hot and I’m not sure what that confession says about me. He was terrible! I wouldn’t date him! But, like, okay, he was good looking and we can admit that, right? Right? Guys? Right? I’m only admitting this because I’ve seen other people say it. Guys.

So, I don’t know a lot about Stalin. And I don’t know a lot about my family history and that’s what I really took away from this book. My grandparents lived in small Ukrainian villages before the war and were shipped off to refugee camps in Germany. And look, I know it wasn’t a concentration camp or a Siberian work camp, but I know that circumstances were not great. I know that my grandmother couldn’t go home again. I know it was bad enough that my grandmother refused to talk about the situation. (If you’re wondering where the gene of not talking about my personal life comes from, it comes from my silent Ukrainian ancestors.) I know the name of the village where the refugee camp was located, but I can’t find any information on the camp. I know my grandmother’s maiden name, but have searched and can’t find anything about her family or my grandfather’s family. I know that the villages where they lived were so small they didn’t keep birth records so when they landed at Ellis Island my grandmother had no idea how old she was or when her birthday was, so she guessed her age and made up a birthday.

I know that there was a famine in Ukraine before World War II and some people turned to cannibalism and my mom says my grandmother never mentioned cannibalism, but my grandmother never mentioned a lot of things so I’m not totally ruling it out.

So, yeah, I liked the book! It was good! It made me feel things! But mostly it made me curious and I wish I had asked more questions before my grandmother passed away.

Read Between Shades of Gray! If you haven’t already, though you probably have because I’m always years late on things.


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