Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Also by this author: Salt to the Sea
Published by Speak
Genres: Young Adult
Read in: October 2017
Source: Personal Collection
Add to: 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. - via GoodReads
I wanted to read Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys when I saw Alexa talking about how much she enjoyed it quite awhile back. I have never read a book by Sepetys before and I figured Between Shades of Gray was as good a place to start as any!
I am not going to lie I had a very hard time putting this book down. It’s always hard to say that historical fiction based on horrific events is a good read but this one was. I hadn’t heard much (let’s face if anything at all) about the Lithuanian people and their plight during WWII. To be honest, I didn’t know that there was much of a distinction between concentration camps and work camps. They are both equally horrifying. The hardest part about this type of a read is watching how people can treat other human beings so callously.
Lina’s story was heartbreaking. Of course we know how the general story ends but Sepetys captured my interest specifically in Lina’s story. It was devastating and it pulled at everything in me that is human. I had hoped desperately that Lina’s story would have as happy an ending that was possible for her. The fact that I have to even quantify that instead of just saying a happy ending says something. I learned a lot through Between Shades of Gray. Almost all of it was bad but it was good information to know. Through it all was a message that hope is very hard to kill.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys made me want to read more historical fiction, specifically about WWII from other countries’ (outside of the US) perspectives. It also made me want to delve into Sepetys’s back list. I will definitely be doing both!