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A MILLION SHADES OF GRAY by Cynthia Kadohata


by Cynthia Kadohata

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4169-1883-7
Publisher: Atheneum

War has never been far from Y’Tin’s life. He’d grown fond of the jovial American soldiers his father had helped over the years, and now, in 1973, the North Vietnamese army is menacing South Vietnam—even his isolated Montagnard village. Still, “[a]ll his father thought about was the war, and all Y’Tin thought about was elephants.” While it’s true that Y’Tin, a matter-of-fact 13-year-old with an easy confidence, obsesses about Lady, his hardworking elephant charge, she becomes only one of his many concerns. In a clear-as-a-bell third-person voice, with warmth and humor, Kadohata fully rounds out the character of Y’Tin—the way he loves and thinks, often measuring his own responses to the world with those of his ever-deliberating, never-wrong father. As he and Lady escape from the massacre that kills half the village, Y’Tin sees that between right and wrong are “a million shades of gray,” like the elephant’s hide, like the jungle in the dim light. A fascinating window into post–Vietnam War history and a wonderfully intimate character study. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)