Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: 2011
Genre: YA, Adult Fiction
Buy the book: Amazon
Buy the book: Amazon
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. (Goodreads)
Kim’s take – Wow. This was a completely unforgettable novel. I fell in love with all of the characters and my heart broke for them while reading of the horrible situations they were placed in.
Lina is a talented artist in Lithuania with a bright future ahead of her when her family is taken from their home by the Soviets. The location of her father, who has already been taken, is unknown to the family. Lina, her mother, and little brother are boarded on trains with no idea where they are going or what will happen to them. The conditions on the train are deplorable and are only the beginning of the inhumane conditions they will soon be trying to survive. It becomes a testament to a person’s will to live and situations they will suffer in order to stay alive and try to help others who are in the same situation.
The family is taken to work camps where they are treated as slaves whose lives are worth less than nothing. It was heart-breaking to read of the horrible living conditions, starvation, and untreated illnesses that these people suffered. And to know that Lina and her family always held on to hope made it that much worse since I knew what happened to so may in these concentration camps. But what happens at the camp is nothing compared to what happens to the family when they are taken across the Arctic Circle to Siberia.
The prisoners have no housing and are instructed to build their own with whatever they are able to find. They are supplied with no way to heat their shabbily built shelters and have no winter clothing. These skeletal characters are with very little food, and trying to survive freezing temperatures and blizzard conditions. I was surprised by some of the methods these people were able to keep alive.
Sepetys is an excellent author who does such a wonderful job of making the characters very relatable. I spent the entire book pulling for just about everyone, though there were a couple of characters who were less than pleasant. The author even managed to slip in a little bit of a love story despite the tragic events.
I would very highly recommend this book to everyone!
Kim’s Rating –