* I read these at different times. All of them as hardcovers. I love Ruta’s books.
In my quest to review all the YA books I read in 2017, I had to review Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy. I read Salt to the Sea last year. However, since it’s hard to talk about these books without giving too much away, I figured I’d write 3 mini reviews.
My favorite thing about Ruta Septys’ books is that they always make me question everything. They’re deep and meaningful and get into your head. Salt to the Sea left me with a book hangover. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Out of the Easy made me so uncomfortable at times and it was good.
Ruta Septys’ doesn’t tell the easy story, she tells the one that needs to be told.
Between Shades of Gray
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
God, I got watery eyes from reading this summary. This book draws you in and you can’t look away. It’s painful, it hurts, it’s fiction but you know the reality of it. You cry as Lina struggles, you learn to celebrate the small things, you admire the strength it takes to press on.
This is a book about courage and learning to pick yourself back up again, about never giving up. It tore my heart in pieces. Lina’s family is endearing, you can’t help but love them. The community that forms between them and the others is powerful and strong and heartbreaking.
This book is heartbreaking.
Out of the Easy
It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.
She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.
With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.
I think I love this book simply because it made me feel so uncomfortable while reading it. There was so much judgment and prejudice against her and yet she persevered in her pursuit of a better life for herself. The story this book told stayed with me long after I finished. It’s hard to talk about, because there were so many levels to my feelings.
Needless to say, Josie’s story is one that will make you feel uncomfortable, will make you feel discouraged and disgusted, but overall, it will make you hopeful.
Salt to the Sea
Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
This was my first Ruta Sepetys book. I cried like a baby. Sometimes, I think about it, and it makes me want to cry again. It was just so powerful and beautiful. The weaving of all four narratives is flawless and keeps you reading until your heart bursts. While I do like historical fiction, I’m not one for WWI or WWII fiction, and I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff until now, but this book destroyed me.
Salt to the Sea is my absolute favorite of Ruta Sepetys’ books, even though I adore the others. This one is stronger, fuller, the emotions raw and powerful. And once again, it’s about hope, and even though you get your heart torn apart, you still experience hope.
Ruta Sepetys can publish whatever she wants and I will automatically buy it, no questions asked.