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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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Kami Garcia
Etiquette & Espionage
Gail Carriger
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Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys The very beginning of this novel was heart wrenching. Watching families be torn apart was very painful and I had to stop several time rather than be overwhelmed with what these people went through. Strangely, that feeling went away as the book went on. The relationship between Lina and Andrius is sweet, endearing and feels real. (Thank you Ruta for not resorting to the instant and all encompassing (and utterly unbelievable) LUV at first sight that so many authors seem to be creating for their teenage characters). The character of the mother shows remarkable strength and it is through her that we are able to see the kindness of humanity in the face of overwhelming adversity. Some Issues:- The Russians are shown as very one dimensional. I spent much of the novel hoping for some show of kindness but was disappointed. (The actions of Kretcsky(sp?) were not impressive enough for my taste)- The mother crumbles rather quickly. I found it unbelievable that a character who had already proven herself to be so strong would simply give up once she was told her husband was dead. The Elena I thought I knew would have rallied in order to save her children.- I enjoyed the character of The Bald Man, but kept expecting more to be revealed about him, why did he know so much? Why did the Russians keep him around when he was injured? Where was his family?- Did Lina's Dad really die?- If Lina buried the book after she was freed, why doesn't she write anything about how/when they were released? Honestly, the ending feels tacked on. It was reminiscent of when one of my students reaches the page requirement for an assignment and then quickly wraps up the story so that they don't have to write any more. Ultimately, Shades of Gray feels like Schindler's List cleaned up for a Young Adult audience but without the shocking scenes and heartbreaking sorrow that makes the former so powerful.