Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Philomel
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: ARC from Publisher
Interest: Debut Author
Challenge: YA Historical Fiction Challenge
Buy the Book: Amazon

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’ll admit it. I was sort of afraid to read this book. Well…. not really afraid, but just watching the video about the book had me bawling, and I was afraid to be in that set of mind again. I don’t know about you, but books can tend to evoke strong emotions with me that will last for days… weeks, months even.

I wish I hadn’t waited for so long. Unfortunately I don’t think my review will do this novel justice.

I don’t want to say that this book wasn’t heartbreaking or that watching the disturbing journey that these people had to endure was not upsetting, I’ll admit it, it was hard to read. Yet I could NOT put it down.

I think the most disturbing thing of all, was that I never knew that this happened. And I know that I’m not alone in that. Read this book, be aware of a untold milestone in history, learn about the strength and compassion humans can possess in the face of extreme adversity. Lina was the perfect narrator for this story. I loved how she captured their journey in her art and despite her situation she always treasured hope, no matter how small it may be.

Sepetys is an absolutely amazing writer. To evoke such emotion not just because of what is happening, but because of how involved you become as a reader to this story and to these characters, it’s not an easy feat. The research and time that Sepetys invested in this novel is apparent in every page.

Between Shades of Gray is a must read.