Monday, August 13, 2012

Between Shades of Gray

"Wow" is all I have to say (well, almost.)

I started it last night and COULD NOT put it down -ended up finishing it.  

Lena is a Lithuanian teenager in 1941 when the Soviet Secret Police come at night 
to take her family away.  

"They took me in my nightgown.  Looking back the signs were there- family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night,  and Papa not returning from work."  

Forced onto filthy cattle cars with thousands of other people Lena and her mother and brother try to stay alive and together as they are taken to work camps during Stalin's "cleansing" of the Baltic region. 
 Interspersed in the story are flashbacks to Lena's life before the upheaval and the contrast between the normalcy of her life before and her current life are so dramatic.   A gifted artist, Lena draws secret pictures to record the atrocities that she witnesses, knowing people won't believe that they could even happen.  She secrets the drawings in her suitcase lining and passes some from person to person, hoping her father will find them and know that she is alive. 

 I honestly found myself ignorant of most of the atrocities that are looked at in this book.  I know we talked briefly of this time in history when I was in school but never discussed the genocide that occurred.   
I truly feel that this book should be required reading in high school.   Ruta Sepetys researched this book by traveling to visit family that had been through the upheavals in Lithuania and recording their stories.  Many of the stories in the book are true accounts. 
This novel looks at cruelty and small acts of kindness in wartime in a way that will touch your heart.
So powerful.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


"Today has to be perfect.
I look at the clock.
10:14 AM.
Ten fourteen. One plus one is two plus four is six plus ten is sixteen minus one is fifteen minus two is thirteen. OK.
I turn from the clock and walk into the hallway. "Ready."
 -from Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe

Mental illness is not fun.
Jake is a handsome high school soccer star, a popular teenager
but he's hiding a secret that's eating him up inside-
He suffers from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.)
Having to "do-over" his day if the numbers don't add up
Time being sucked away from his life.
His mother's mental illness towers over him because his father won't talk about it
she hides away in her room and the family is left to pick up the pieces.
I wonder how much of his illness is real and how much is learned behavior from his mother?
Jake's younger sister and best friend carry him through the rough patches
but the toll is hard.
I thought that this was an interesting look into the mind of a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a good book in general. 
On a personal note-  I read this because I have a son with mild OCD (not in anyway as extreme or debilitating as in the novel.)  It is a disruptive, frustrating condition for both family and the person suffering.   Luckily my son is now usually able to clue in when the OCD is taking over and stop the cycle.

For more information and help look at these sites:
OCD Help Guide
OCD Foundation
Books on OCD for Parents and Kids

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Prairie Storms

My neighbor, Darcy Pattison, is a brilliant author and teacher.  
She is just releasing a new children's book
Prairie Storms

Great book for teaching children about prairie life and lots of fun to read! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I am so behind on posting! I've read a zillion books since my last post so I'm going to get busy today or tomorrow and should have posts for awhile! Sorry!
Please let me know if you've read something great lately. I need suggestions...


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