Friday, July 12, 2013

Book review: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

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.

Between Shades of Gray is the beautifully told story of a Lithuanian girl taken from her home and forced into labor camps with her mother and brother during World War II.

With books that tell the story of survivors of horrendous conditions, the most amazing thing to me is always how they can be anything but the most depressing book you'll ever read. Lina and her family face awful conditions -- they're separated from her father, forced into train cars with too many others, where they must use a hole in the floor boards as a toilet and toss out the folks who die. And that's just the beginning.

Yet, I couldn't get enough of this book. And I think it's that Lina's story was so full of hope. And that you really want to see the characters survive and succeed.

The narration of this story is realistic and beautiful. It jumps a bit between the present and the past, giving you a view into the buildup of tension in Lithuania and helping you to know Lina and her family as they were, as they would have been without the war.

Despite the conditions she's in, Lina is still a teenager. She still gets annoyed with her brother and jealous of others. And I think that's so realistic.

But she's also fighting for her life, and her mother and her brother. She's fighting to make contact with her father. She's fighting to hold on to the sliver of hope she still has.

Between Shades of Gray is a great read for anyone who loves historical fiction -- especially if you'd like to see a side of WWII that isn't often told. Also, Lina shares my birthday. :)

Have any of you read Between Shades of Gray? I highly recommend it! What did you think?


Chelsea Hannah said...

Thanks for the recommendation!

Katrin said...

I haven't read this but wow, it sounds great! I will definitely check it out!

Amanda Bumgarner said...

I'm going to add this to my Goodreads list! Also, I LOVE that you write book reviews. Love.

Amy said...

oh. my. gosh.
From the goodreads description and your take on it, it sounds like a powerful and emotional book!


You know you can try and win books thru goodreads. I've gotten 21 books so far free thru the mail. all paper backs. all but 9 came from good reads. it's awesome.

Kate said...

I LOVE this book. I'm sososososo disappointed because Ruta Sepetys spoke at a conference I was at (she lives in Nashville!) but I hadn't read the book yet, and I didn't want it to be spoiled. So I didn't go listen to her! I'm kicking myself for it.

Her second book, Out of Easy came out this spring. It's definitely VERY good, but I don't think I loved it as much.


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