Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shades of Gray

Because one blogger compared my book to it, and another writer thought The Voice of Thunder belonged on the bookshelf along side it, I am now reading BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY. No, not the world-wide best-selling but decidedly smutty other book.* This SHADES is a critically-lauded literary award-winning Young Adult book, by Ruta Sepetys. The only smut in this book is the outrageous behavior of our species when we are convinced we hold the right to abuse one another in the name of “truth.”

Yes, this book. And it deserved every glowing review it got.

*The one I’m not reading is “GrEy,” British spelling, whereas the good book I am  reading is “GrAy, American spelling. Who knew we’d have one over the Brits in taste and literariness?

This got me thinking about how I have always had a visceral recoiling from black-and-white thinking. I come from a region where everyone (that’s everyone) has an opinion about everything. My parent’s idea of social get-togethers consisted of friends coming over for tea and cookies after dinner, and arguing together. The evenings often ended in raised voices, declarations of mental inadequacy on the part of the other, and, finally, a walk to the door and an agreement to do this all over again next week.

And my parents and their friends were the open-minded ones. They discussed things. They didn’t throw stones or vow to kill. They only committed to arguing and trying to persuade. But they did feel, strongly, that they were “right.”

And so I came to this great melting-pot, the U.S.A.. Here the pervasive cultural ethos, sometimes referred to as WASP, was the polite avoidance of arguing. Underneath, many still feel they hold the absolute truth. But polite conversation avoids religion and even politics, the mainstays of both social connectedness and divisiveness where I came from.

It suits me fine. My interior meter tells me black-and-white is the illusion. I do believe there are higher truths that are not shades of gray. I also think it is the height of hubris to think we are privy to those from our perch. I’m a shades-of-gray lady.

For me- black & white is for wearing, not thinking.


  1. Good comparison to Ruta's book :)

    I'm definitely a black/white category once I've wrestled with an issue (and sometimes it takes years to figure out what's the core value). There are some absolute truths.

  2. Great post, Mirka! I think there's plenty of room for gray areas. Many things are not black or white.

  3. great punch line:
    "For me- black & white is for wearing, not thinking."
    I agree with you generally, there are only a few absolute truths for me and even they fade sometimes.

  4. You look great, Mirka. I've heard wonderful things about that book, haven't read it yet. And I learned something from your blog...about the 2 spellings of grAY!

  5. I'm in your camp on this one, Mirka. If thoughts and the truth could be as polarized as your lovely coat colors, life might be simpler, but definitely not as interesting.

    Here's to 2013. May it bring us more beautifully written books.

  6. Oh, I loved Between Shades of Gray, too. Definitely one of the best books of 2012. Highly, highly interesting that its "opposite" in a sense should have such a similar title.