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.
I am still reeling in shock after finishing this book. It was so unbelievably deep and moved me so much that I can barely bring myself to start reading another one.
To be completely honest, when I picked this book up, having not read the back and basing it purely on the cover, I thought it was about the Holocaust. When I discovered it was about Stalin, I was a little put off because I had never read anything about him before and I didn’t know what to expect.
I watched an interview with Ruta Sepetys and in that she said how much less people know the full extent of what Stalin did due to the prisoners released from the camps were not allowed to speak of what had happened to them and that that had made her all the more determined to tell this story. I learned so much about what happened in Siberia during that time whilst reading this novel that it made it an even greater read than it would have been without.
All of the characters are well developed and the author weaves their individual, well rounded personalities into the novel so well that I really cared about each and every one of them. Lina, the main protagonist, is such an inspirational, strong girl who I grew attached to within the first chapter. I loved how her drawings and expression of who she was through her art remained a huge part of the story even with the terrible conditions in which they were in, and that made me love her all the more.
The situation and conditions in which these characters are living really upset me at points; the ways in which they were treated really made me angry at times, so I liked how the author brought out so many emotions in the reader. A lot of the deaths in the story were so abrupt and done so coldly that it made them seem all the more real, and again, the writing style of Ruta Sepetys made me feel so many emotions throughout the entire novel.
I thought the ending was perfect and although sad, I was satisfied with what became of the characters remaining. Overall, an amazing, touching story that I don’t think I wil ever forget. 5/5 stars.