Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel
Published March 22nd 2011
Other Titles in Series: None
My Rating: 5/5 stars
My Grade: A
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.
Between Shades of Gray is riveting, gritty, and one of the hardest books to read. I know this review won't be a good one, because there is no way I can do this book the justice it deserves. But I promise, you will cry. I did. And that's saying something, since I didn't even cry when I read My Sister's Keeper and A Walk to Remember. (Though I did cry when I watched the movies, I'm not heartless.) This is a book of sadness, but it is beautiful.
Beautiful. This book is such a gruesome book, filled with pain and suffering, but it is for sure beautiful. There is so much love and compassion in the pages, and Ruta Sepetys did an amazing job of creating that love, and letting it show through her writing. It was incredible. She made it so believable of how people can be cruel but have cracks of love show through their personality at points.
When I originally heard about this book, it didn't jump out at me. But once I watched the book trailer that had the author talking about it, I instantly wanted to read it. I think the thing that scares me the most is that I really didn't know that Jospeh Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic regions even happened until I heard about this book.
Lina is a very honest but average teenage girl, and I appreciated that in a main character. I loved reading this book through her perspective, and I think a good element of this story was how she recorded her story through drawings and writing. The other characters were very developed as well; from Lina's brother, Jonah, her mother, as well as the character of Andrius.
For this one, folks, remember to have a box of tissues. I cried. But this is an incredible document of a horrifying historical event, and I hope that from picking up this book people will learn something about this particular event. Very stunning and unforgettable.