Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Ruta Sepetys has written a beautiful and heartbreaking book capturing the journey of a young Lithuanian girl and her family as she experiences Stalin's hell. I was reminded very much of Hitler's regime in the way the Soviets dehumanized the people they tried to obliterate.

I remember when Ruta won the SCBWI WIP grant for Between Shades of Gray and I've been waiting many years to read it. Brava! I am so happy this story is so carefully told, incorporating the memories of family and friends.

My husband is American, but his great- grandparents were Swedish and Lithuanian. He still has family in Sweden, but none that we know of in Lithuania.

Other books I've enjoyed:

Unplanned by Abby Johnson. This is a must read for anybody who is pro-choice. Ms. Johnson shares her journey from being pro-choice to pro-life while working at a Planned Parenthood clinic. What's startling is that many of us will see ourselves in her -- in how we think about women's health and women's rights. Sadly, we forget that God is the author of all life, and we have no right to take it.

Flip by Martyn Bedford. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced book about Alex, a boy who finds himself in another boy's body. We learn along with Alex how this could be possible. And like the good fiction it is, it made me think about many social issues, which I won't say here for fear of spoiling the book.

It's interesting that somehow all three books have to do with life and death, and the dignity of being human.

Happy reading and thinking.



A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Thank you for the recommendations, Vijaya! I will have to check these out. They sound wonderful.

I've been reading your blogs lately, but I've been a bad commenter. *sigh* I'm so glad you had such a wonderful, uplifting time at the conference, and your children did indeed look wonderful on Easter Sunday! They are great kids. It was so fun to meet your family. I felt so blessed visiting you! I'm glad it was a wonderful Easter for you. :)

How's the novel going? Are you applying everything you learned at the conference?


Mary Witzl said...

I especially want to read Between Shades of Gray. I bought tea from two Lithuanian women a few days ago; I asked them what language they were speaking (I'm obnoxiously nosey because I love languages) and they told me.

It's frightening just how much Stalin got away with, and yet there are still people who don't realize he was as ruthless and and narrow-minded as Hitler.

Vijaya said...

Amy, it was great to meet your whole family and I suppose I should send you some of the good pictures my son took. I still can't believe how prolific you are with three little ones.

I had a hard disk crash over Easter and didn't discover it until Tue. Thankfully, I have hard copies of almost everything. Still I lost a month's work on my novel and that was a hard lesson to learn. Back up!

I still have much to process from the conference, but I already know my next revision will focus on language!

Mary -- you would be curious! I'm so glad Ruta wrote this book because so many people don't realize what Stalin did, how much blood he has on his hands. This is the power of story. We must tell them.

Faith E. Hough said...

I'm glad to hear you liked Between Shades of Gray...I've been thinking of reading it, but tend to avoid "depressing" books when I'm pregnant... Do you think I should go ahead and read it now anyway?
And I've heard a lot of praise for Unplanned, too. I'll definitely be reading that soon.

Vijaya said...

Ultimately, Shades is uplifting, Faith, because it's about the power of love, but I'd wait to read it if I were you. So many sections are so brutal and sad. I wouldn't read Unplanned right now either. A few parts are too graphic.

Flip is great, though!

LauraW said...

I just heard an interview with Ruta Sepetys on a writing podcast called Pen on Fire. You might want to check it out. (http://penonfire.blogspot.com/2011/04/ruta-sepetys-and-alina-tugend.html) I hope things are going well, Vijaya--for you, your family and your health!

Vijaya said...

Thanks for the link, Laura. I'll have to listen to it later. Ruta has a video talking about her book on her website as well.

We are well, Laura. I have loads to catch up with you and will write later this week ... You must be having a spring thaw finally. Be well.