Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
March 2011 by Philomel Books
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 have 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 them 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 Grey is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
As I sit here writing this review, I am at a loss for words. It is hard to say that I loved this book, when you look at the contents within the cover. But, I did love this book. It is a very surreal experience. While I know that Lina and her family are a fictitious group of people. The story behind their life is not. These things did happen to real people. It is a truly heartbreaking story. And what is even more heartbreaking? The fact that myself, and many other people, knew nothing about this horrific evil that was allowed to take place in our history. I truly believe that this book should be a permanent part of our children's school curriculum. This is something that needs to be told. So that this is never, ever allowed to happen again.
There is so much more I could say about this book. However, I am left speachless. I was left with tears running down my face during the last 50 pgs or so. I could not move or do anything other than stare at the cover once I turned the last page. This is a truly heartbreaking story. But it is also a true testament to the love, power and will of the human spirit.
Thank you, Ruta Sepetys.
Rating: 5 stars!