Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publish date: 2011
Source: Library
"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.
" (Goodreads)

A couple weeks ago, I was doing a rare perusal of the library shelves (instead of putting everything on hold as usual), I found Between Shades of Gray and picked it up, remembering that I had wanted to read it and historical fiction sounded good at that time. Let me just say...WOW. I loved it. A lot.

I've never read a book set in this particular time and place before and I have to say, I'm pretty ignorant about that era as well. Ruta Sepetys has COMPLETELY opened my eyes to history, which I'm sure was one of her goals. I can't imagine going through what Lina and her family did and I'm so glad that Ms. Sepetys decided to make this horrible aspect of history more widely known. My mind was blown.

I really loved the writing style here: simple, but brutally effective. Reading about things like death, starvation, and sickness were like a punch to the gut and to characters that I knew and loved? Ouch. My heart hurt. Ms. Sepetys created some wonderful characters that I was sad to say goodbye to when I finished the book.

If you are looking for wonderful historical fiction (or just a wonderful book), do yourself a favor and read Between Shades of Gray. You won't regret it.

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