Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
Release: March 22, 2011
Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life—until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?
How can I even begin to describe my love for Between Shades of Gray? It's just an ordinary book about an ordinary girl just trying to survive. So why did I love it? What made me turn the pages until I reached the end? Maybe it was the writing. Maybe it was Lina's courage and sense of determination. Maybe I was impacted by the brutality Lina described with her honest and poignant voice.
Like I said, Between Shades of Gray is a book about survival. Lina is looking forward to attending art school, when her world turns upside down. Forced to pack and leave her home in the middle of the night, Lina and her family travel the desolate and chilly landscape as prisoners and victims of Stalin's reign. Yes, this is a book about World War II. Yes, this book is historical.
Groan and moan all you want, but I urge every reader (young and old) to read Between Shades of Gray. Unlike most historicals, Ruta's writing is not bogged down by descriptions and facts. Lina's narrative is honest and choppy, but Ruta still manages to make it beautiful and believable. By the end, my eyes were filled with tears. My heart ached for all those who suffered during World War II--be they Lithuanian, Jews, or military officials coerced into doing unspeakable things.
Bottom line: read this book. I can't recommend it enough.
RATING: 5 SLICES