Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by: Philomel Books on March 22, 2011
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, War, WWII
Source: Borrowed from the library
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Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
Review: I loved this book so much. I am always looking for WWII historical fiction books especially ones that are set in different parts in the world and tell stories that you don’t hear about. The subject matter is such an important history lesson and it is so heartbreaking to read, especially since it’s coming from the view of a teenage girl. This was so incredibly well researched and you could tell that the author really wanted to get this story out there.
I have nothing bad to say about this novel. The writing was fantastic and the short chapters made the book flow so freely. You really cannot put the book down. The title of the book really comes out within the story. With such a grim situation the characters do a lot of good things for each other.
I’m glad that I wasn’t aware of the hype so that I could go into this fully unaware. All I knew was it was about Lithuania in WWII. Apparently this fact deterred people from fully enjoying it but I urge you to read this one, it’s so heartbreakingly beautiful.
(Oh and definitely read the book and not listen to the audiobook! I hear that also changes how it is perceived. I find audiobooks change the tone of novels as it’s happened to books I’ve read before that everyone thought was amazing. The narrators tone/voice can throw everything off).
I can’t wait to read Sepety’s books Salt to the Sea!
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