Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Young Adult, Historial Fiction
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
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.
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Wow. Wow. This book has honestly left me speechless. It's a book that I've seen everywhere for such a long time but I've never thought to pick it up. I didn't know much about it, other than that it was historical fiction, which generally isn't my thing. But, oh my God, it was so incredibly powerful. Not only was it an engrossing read, I learned a lot whilst reading. It focuses on the horrors that were happening in Lithuania and other Baltic States during WWII, a topic I've never been taught about in school. I was shocked and horrified while reading but I'm so glad I had the chance to learn about this.
Reading this was such an eye opening experience and the horror I felt was multiplied ten fold when I did some more research and found out that a lot of what Lina and her family experienced were things that real people actually had to go through. The author interviewed a lot of people to create this book and their stories are reflected in this one.
Following Lina on this journey was especially impactful. She was fifteen - fifteen - and having to go through this. Hearing about all of these horrors from the voice of a child rather than a text book made it all the more terrible. She was so confused about why it was happening to them; why her family when they had done nothing wrong. It was painful reading about her confusion and anger about her situation. But she was so brave. I really loved that she was so adamant about holding on to her art. It was such a powerful tool for her - something that couldn't be taken away, unlike everything else. Her art was her connection to her life before she and her family were taken from their home. And it was a way to more solidly reunite and connect with other people during her travels.
I'm glad I read this book when I did. Even though I would have loved to have known about all of these horrors earlier, I think it impacted me more now than it ever would have before because of the experiences I've been through, as well as the knowledge I've had the chance to accumulate. It was so powerful and impactful and made me cry on multiple occasions. I was just a puddle of tears at the end, really. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author, especially if her other books are as honest and emotional as this one.
“Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.”