Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Between Shades of Gray

Yes I typed that correctly.

This is NOT a review about 50 shades of grey.  Just keep moving if that's what you were looking for.  Or, stay a while and browse, maybe you'll find a book suggestion that catches your interest.  This is a story about a girl from Lithuania, who loved to draw, and whose life changed dramatically in 1941 when Stalin ordered her family to a labor camp.

It seems I have read a lot of Holocaust books this year.  Between Shades of Gray falls into that category, but with a little spin on a story we have heard summarized in every world history class.  While the world was focused on Hitler's reign and the atrocities he waged against the Jews, Stalin was busy with his own version of ethnic cleansing.  He rounded up lawyers, doctors, and educators and deported them to labor camps in the Baltic.  On paper, they were accused of being common criminals.  The author's note states that 20 million people died under Stalin's orders.  And unlike the concentration camps that were liberated at the end of the war, the Lithuanian people did not find freedom.  The main family in the novel remained in bondage for 12 years.  Twelve years of hard, manual labor with poorly built shacks to protect against the cold, arctic winters and scavenging for food.

My favorite line from the book:

Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth?  That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.

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