Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre & Age Group: Historical fiction, young adult
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.
Source: Public library
How I Found Out About It: Goodreads/Blogging
When I first started blogging, I first heard all about Ruta Sepetys and how amazing her novels are, whether it be this one or her newer release, Salt to the Sea. Since I really enjoy reading and learning about World War ll, I have always had an eye open for her books. So, when I found Between Shades of Gray at the library, I was ecstatic!
I’m very happy to say that this book met all of my expectations. It was a moving, inspiring story with an amazing protagonist and close friendship bonds all over the place, and I’m honestly so glad I was able to get my hands on it.
To briefly synopsize, this book follows the perspective of 15-year old Lina, and it takes place in Lithuania during the year of 1941, in the midst of World War ll. When Soviet officers send her family out of their home, Lina is forced to drop all of her life’s hopes and trade them in for a new life at a work camp. She really enjoys art, so she documents all of her happenings in the hope that they will reach her dad’s camp, informing him that she is alive and well.
Lina is the type of character that I can’t help but ramble on and on about. If I could tell you all of the amazing words I’d use to describe her, you’d be reading this forever. She was honestly amazing, having a strong, creative soul as well as being a caring, loyal friend. The circumstances she was under were absolutely horrifying, but I adored how she was able to emotionally and physically make her way through it. In spite of the large amount of characters that came in and out of the story, every single one of them was touched and inspired by Lina in their own ways, and I loved that.
The plot was smooth and easy-going, though at times some of the events were hard to bare, which is fair regarding the fact that this book is about WWll. The premise was unique, and it also had a good amount of mystery embedded into it. I just have one tiny complaint, though- the mystery aspect wasn’t that memorable, and I wish that Sepetys could have weaved it a bit more into the general plot of the story.
All in all, I loved Between Shades of Gray. It was a bright, honest insight into the life of a teenager during World War ll, and it has the ability to make readers be much more thankful for their loved ones and prized possessions, as this book shows that they could all be lost in a second. I won’t lie to you, but I think that any avid YA reader can be inspired by this remarkable story. I can’t wait to pick up Salt to the Sea!