Between Shades of Gray
author : ruta sepetys
pages : [hardcover] 344
memorable quote : Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.
favorite character : lina
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
I’ve held onto this book for a while, waiting for the right time to read it because I knew that it was going to be an emotional book. I’m really fascinated with historical fiction set in this time period and most of it focuses on places like Germany, not all of those who were displaced and killed from other countries. Between Shades of Gray tells about a part of World War II not often spoken about. In fact, I don’t remember learning about this sort of thing in class. Lina and her family are pulled out of their home one night, not knowing where her father is, and they’re shipped off to a terrifying camp. All because the new regime was collecting lists of those who might oppose them: teachers, lawyers . . . the list goes on and on.
From the very beginning of this harrowing tale I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what would possibly happen next. At the same time, I almost couldn’t bear to read further. From the back of the book I learned that the author researched this novel very well (and it shows), as well as speaking with some survivors of the camps. These atrocities really happened and what is worse, so many people worked to try to make it so that these stories would never be told and the ordeal these people courageously survived would be forgotten to history.
I found it very interesting, reading on and learning that if people attempted to save themselves by escaping to other countries, that would put their friends and other family members in peril. It is something I hadn’t really thought about; I assume that when most people hear about this time period and know that the people in these countries were aware that others were being shipped to camps, they would do their best to escape. But how could you leave when you couldn’t possibly take everyone you knew and cared for with you, to ensure their protection?
Lina was a very strong lady and reading from her perspective gave me so much respect for her. She was only a teenager when she entered the camps, only a girl, and she was forced to grow up so fast. The reader follows her journey in a beautifully written book, though after the novel is finished there is time to contemplate how much her life has changed from before the beginning of the novel to after the epilogue.
I’d recommend this book to anyone.