Saturday 19 February 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin Books 
Genre: War, Historical
Release Date: March 22nd 2011
Source: Reviewed for BLISS Magazine

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.

My Thoughts: 
Between Shades of Gray is the first novel by Ruta Sepetys and tells of story of 15-year-old Lithuanian, Lina, and her family, who where deported during the time of Stalin. The book tells of the horrific events that occurred to Lina and the other deportees, and is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting. 

Before reading this book, I had very little knowledge of the terrible and unjust situations the Baltic people were faced with during this time. It was desperately sad to learn Lina's story and know that whilst she may be fictional, her circumstances were all too real for the citizens who were deported.

This novel has been researched incredibly by the author and the writing is simply beautiful. Unlike a lot of young adult books, it doesn't sugar-coat the story or shy away from telling of the true horrors that these people faced. 

Lina is a truly incredible character. I completely felt her pain throughout the book, but I also loved the small, lighthearted scenes in which her and the others trapped in the camp made the best out of their situation. The scene in which they all celebrate Christmas is especially heartwarming and provides a little light during their dark time of suffering.

Of course, there is a little romance, but it's certainly not your average fairy tale with a happily ever after. Lina and Andrius have some lovely scenes together, and I'm happy that they gave each other a reason to smile. 

Whilst these characters are faced with constant pain and loss, this still manages to be a story of hope. Between Shades of Gray really is a story that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page, and I'm very exciting to see what stories the author has in store for us in the future. 

My Royal Rating:

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