I rarely speak of authors, for there are just too many I would like to talk about. Write one good novel, and I will love you forever, sorta. But I have to say a word or two on Ruta Sepetys, a Lithuanian-American author, and her beautiful WWII novels on what was war in Lithuania.
Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys: Ruta is a flower, Sepetys is a brush!) is a Lithuanian-American author, born and raised in Michigan (Detroit). She is a daughter to Lithuanian refugees, who fled Lithuania during war, in (successful) attempts to survive. I find it beautiful, that she, having a comfortable life overseas, still looks back to this small country where her roots are. And we, Lithuanians, even if we are bitter and oppressed, we always love those who claim to be part of us (even if our gov. sometimes denies people such a chance). And we absolutely love writers. So her, being a wonderful author, probably fills every literate Lithuanian with joy to hear she writes of this small little country we live upon.
I first got to know her properly via our exclusive little book club, where someone (I didn’t know them very well then, so I can’t remember whose suggestion it was) made her debut novel “Between Shades of Gray” our book of the month. I am reluctant in reading translations, and it took me a moment to realize that English is actually original, that Ruta Sepetys is not one of those hard-core Lithuanian authors who will now attempt to depress me with what was war like stories. And as I opened the book, my good suspicions were confirmed, and bad ones – dispelled. Novel was not only easy to read, but it was filled with hope, and relentless search for humanity among evil, and cruelty. Lina Vilkas, whose memoirs we are following in this book, is an artist, taken away to Siberia with most of her family. Back then they took the oddest choice of people: the rich, the noble, and the intelligent, and her family fit the description. I really loved the book.
Some time later, and since I can’t recall when we read the other book, NetGalley provided me with a chance to read “Salt to the Sea“, a sort of other side of that same story. Same war tearing Lithuania apart. Even same Vilkas family. But not the part that was taken to Siberia, rather the other part, those who fled willingly in attempts to survive. Death peeked from every corner, Russians rampaged the soil, guerrilla war… Well, you know how successful that one ever is, if brave. Germans retreated. And all in between were civilians no one cared for unless they were somehow useful.
And of course, there’s the “Out of the Easy” book, but I have not yet read that one, truth be told. I intend to, but with my reading responsibilities, there’s little to no time for pleasure-reads. So if I can say something of the author from the two books out of three that I’ve read, is that she is indeed a something. I do like WWII books, especially the ones that are not out there just to punch you in the feels (like Book Thief was, I’d rather read Forest of Gods, or City of Thieves all over again), and these, while probably not the very best you could find, definitely on top three in that topic. And most likely a number one speaking of Lithuania during those times. Give her a chance if you need a break from regular fiction (be it YA stuff, as a friend from same club said, or just whatever other stuff you were reading constantly and feel like having a break), her books are easy to read, and aren’t all that long either. Mind you, even if they’re not there to torment you, the whole punch in the feels thing will probably still happen.