From the Publisher:
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 by Ruta Sepetys is an astonishingly beautiful book about a very ugly time in history. While I studied Soviet history and foreign policy extensively, lived in the former USSR and was fully aware of Stalin’s regime and his massacre of 20 million people, even I was touched by Between Shades of Gray. To be quite honest, I was hoping this was a non-fiction book, and somehow I completely missed the fact that it was targeted as a young adult novel until I began reading this remarkable book. I usually do not review young adult books and because I do not, I have no point of reference to compare this book with other young adult books. What I can share with the readers is the beauty found in the strength of the characters, the humanity found in inhumane times, and love blooming where it would seem most unlikely. Sepetys draws the reader into this time in history, brings the characters to life and allows the reader to really see things as they were, cruel, cold, hard, and despite all odds, love and compassion shine through. Many people are hard pressed to name the Baltic states, let alone know what those states endured to gain their independence in 1991, and Between Shades of Gray allows readers an intimate inside look. I would whole-heartedly recommend Between Shades of Gray to everyone.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ruta Sepetys grew up hearing stories of her father’s childhood as a Lithuanian refugee. Realizing this was a story never told in a novel for young adults, Ruta decided to tell it herself. When not writing, Ruta works in the music industry. Between Shades of Gray is her first novel. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
I received a complimentary ARC of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys from Philomel Books to offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.