Sunday, September 23, 2012

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys [Review]

Between Shades of Gray5 out of 5 Robots!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Release: March 22, 2011
Hardcover: 322 Pages
Publisher: Philomel Books
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)
Shannon's Thoughts:
Books like Between Shades of Gray tend to haunt me.  I read them sparingly because it makes my heart heavy for days afterwards.  But at the same time, I appreciate the fact that it can affect me so much. 

Between Shades of Gray is a haunting and harrowing protrayal of Lina and her family’s deportation from Lithuania to Siberia during WWII.  It is so beautifully written and I can feel Lina’s confusion and sadness and anger though Sepetys' words. 

The deportation of Lithuanians, Latvian, Estonians and Finns is not something I was familiar with prior to reading this book. It is estimated that Stalin relocated around 3.3 million people, with around 200,000 from the Baltic States alone.  The suffering the deportees faced was immense. Sepetys does an amazing job of bringing it to life.  Yet through all the suffering, there is underlying hope and survival and kindness.  Lina’s story will continue to stick in my mind for a long time.  I was reminded of the The Book Thief while reading this and almost wish that Lina and Liesel could have met and been friends.  

Between Shades of Gray is not an easy read, but I think it should be on everyone’s list and brings to light a part of history that is fairly unknown.

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