Today’s I Read YA Week post is supposed to be “If Movies Were YA,” so I am posting about a book that I think should be turned into a movie. Between Shades of Gray is a story that I think should be required reading for all high school students when they study world history, though I think a movie might do a better job of increasing awareness overall. As I listened to this audiobook, I kept thinking, “This needs to be the next Schindler’s List. Why is it that everyone talks about the horrors of the Holocaust and nobody ever talks about the Soviet Holodomor?” I mean, I didn’t even know the term Holodomor (which roughly translates to “death by hunger”) until this book inspired me to do a little research.
I remember briefly covering Stalin and being taught about his “purges”… but I think we pretty much glossed over it on the way to an in-depth study of the Holocaust. I mean, I definitely didn’t recall that the total death count was right up there with the Holocaust. It is estimated that somewhere between 3 and 60 million people died during the Holodomor, with many estimates putting the death toll at around 7 million people. SEVEN MILLION! People talk about the Holocaust all the time. They lament the fact that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and another 5 million people [including Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, disabled people, and Gypsies] under Hitler’s rule. There are numerous Holocaust museums and memorials in addition to a Holocaust Remembrance Day. But, no one really talks much about what Stalin did. My Facebook feed doesn’t “blow up” once a year to remind me of what Stalin did. And that is a crying shame. Some people may debate the death toll and ask, “Was it genocide?” But, regardless of the exact number and the terminology you use, there is no debating the fact that millions of people died under Stalin’s regime.
I appreciate the author interview at the end of the audiobook, in which Ruta Sepetys explained her personal connection to the story, and I love that the official website for the book includes resources like a book discussion guide and a video of Ruta Sepetys discussing the novel. I’m glad that this book has started to shed some more light on the Holodomor , and I can only pray that this light shines brightly, and widely, from here on.