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.
This is an incredibly moving book. It took my breath away to read of Lina’s journey and her survival. This story highlights the journey of what happened to so many during Stalin’s reign. It’s heart wrenching to read of the cruelty they faced, the harsh conditions they slaved in, and their incredible emotional journey.
Ruta Sepetys details a part of WWII that has hidden behind the stories of the Jews and Concentration Camps. This story details those in Eastern Europe, under Stalin, that were taken from their homes, and forced to travel to the coldest reaches of earth to work in the harshest conditions, with very little means for survival. While this book details horrifying treatment, atrocious conditions, and the lack of value by some for human life, it also details another side. Between Shades of Gray tells of a story where bonds are formed between strangers struggling to survive. It’s a story of taking risks to help those looking for loved ones, namely fathers, who’ve been separated from families. It’s a story of mother’s and what they sacrifice to keep their children safe and fed. It’s a story of love, and a story of struggling to maintain the innocence of a child, while being forced to grow up so very quickly. It’s a story of death, a story of sadness, and a story of sorrow, and yet in the end, it’s a story of survival.