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Review: Between Shades of Gray by: Ruta Sepetys

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Through the Looking Glass: Review: Between Shades of Gray by: Ruta Sepetys

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: Between Shades of Gray by: Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray
Between Shades of Gray by: Ruta Sepetys
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Philomel Books
Page Count: 344
Format: Hardcover (Thanks Hannah!)
Buy the Book: Amazon

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.

My Review:

I am so glad to have read this book. It enlightened me on so many things that I knew vaguely about but had never really grasped. This story gives a us a glimpse of what thousands of people were forced to live through because of Stalin and the NKVD.

True, this was a bit of a hard read, but I loved every piece of raw emotion it portrayed. Lina and her family are captured by the NKVD  (Soviet police) and taken to live in the most despicable living conditions imaginable with hardly any food and endless labor. 

Through it all, Lina remains strong and cares for her mother and brother more than herself. Early on in their brutal journey, the three are separated from their father. Lina decides to draw her location on any surface she can find and pass it on in the hopes of it eventually reaching him. The hope in Between Shades of Gray is one of it's best qualities. It made me realize that hope is what keeps people going in times like Lina's.

Most of the events in the story are to the point. There isn't much elaboration of emotions. This makes it unique from other historical, etc. books I've read. Even without that, I connected with Lina and her point of view.

When they settle into the first town, Lina meets a bunch of new people. She forms a friendship with Andrius, a boy her age. They understand each other. With all the people in the camps, they are bonded by their situation, which allows some mutual understanding among everybody. There is a slight romance between them. I kind of wish there was more interaction between them. 

If you like historical books that are truthful, you'll love Between Shades of Gray!

Official Rating:

Four Un-Birthday Cakes!

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