Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: "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: I learned a lot from Between Shades of Gray. Beforehand, I didn't know anything about Lithuania, muchless that some Lithuanians were taken into work camps in Siberia during WWII by the Soviets.
The story follows Lena, 16 years old at the time and a budding artist, along with her mother and younger brother, as they are forced from their home, loaded onto a train car, and made to work in one of the camps. Lena's character comes alive off the pages, she's very real and very strong.
I enjoyed the story, even though at times it was heartbreaking. I kept hoping it would end happier than the true life Diary of Anne Frank.
I feel that this story is a must read for historical fiction fans. I would have given it five stars, however, (and I hope this is not a spoiler for some) the actual story ends before anyone is liberated. I, personally, wanted to know how the people who did survive got home. So, other than the abrupt ending, Between Shades of Gray is a good read.
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