Y’Tin is a young boy in Vietnam who knows exactly what he wants to do. He wants to be an elephant trainer, and maybe open a school to teach others how to train wild elephants. But will his dream stay intact through the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the Vietnam war?
A Million Shades of Gray was a very satisfying read. Y’Tin was a wonderful character, and I was really able to connect with him. His dream of training elephants and how he was able to hang onto it through the war and everything he endured was one of the reasons I kept reading.
I found it hard to believe a thirteen-year-old boy could still have something to look forward to in such a shattered world, and I am glad Cynthia Kadohata lovingly created a character with such determination to reach his dream. It was interesting to read about the Vietnam war from a different perspective, a perspective that wasn’t only concerned with the effect on the American forces, or talking about how the American soldiers felt while there, or that discussed how poorly the American people treated the soldiers once they returned.
It was also a shame seeing the situation from the eyes of the abandoned. It hurt to think how much Y’Tin looked up to the Americans, how he copied their slang, aspired to them, and valued their opinions when they left him and the other South Vietnamese to suffer at the hands of their enemies. It was nearly impossible not to sympathize with his plight when what he and his fellow villagers went through was described. They were treated horribly by the North Vietnamese forces, starved, forced to dig a mass grave and mercilessly slaughtered, and then the houses were torched so those who managed to escape the massacre would have no life to return to. I shared Y’Tin’s sorrow and rage at what he and his people endured.
I was impressed with how much information the author could include about tracking, elephants, and the everyday life of people in Y’Tin’s village in such a light read. Although shorter than the average book I read, I finished feeling as though I completely understood their world. The little details made the story come to life. A Million Shades of Gray was a great read.
- Author’s Website: http://www.kira-kira.us/
- Publisher: Atheneum
- Date of Publication: January 5, 2010