Between Shades of Gray is by far one of my favorite World War II books! I read it last year and fell instantly in love, not because it was some nice story but because it wasn’t. For some people, this book may be hard to read because there is a lot of suffering and detail about what the Soviets did to the people of the Baltic States; however, it’s a subject that I feel we should all understand and be educated in.
I’d never heard about what happened to the Lithuanians, Latvians, or Estonians during WWII before reading this book. When people talk about WWII, the first things they think about are usually Hitler, Jews, and the Holocaust, but so much more went on during those terrible years! Not only were the Jews being sent to concentration camps, but people in the Baltic States were being deported from their homes by the Soviets and sent to prison camps to work in Siberia in the frigid temperatures!
Between Shades of Gray follows a Lithuanian girl named Lina. She’s an exceptional artist who would do anything to protect her family; but, sometimes even the strongest person can’t keep the ones they love together.
Evicted from their home in the middle of the night, Lina, her mother, and brother, Jonas, are forced into a cattle train with no idea where their next destination will be! Separated from her father and terrified, the only hope Lina carries with her are some of the last words she heard from him. Her father told her, “You can help me find you…” meaning that if she drew and the pages found him, he would know it was her, and he could know where to look once he’s released from a concentration camp!
Things go from worse to even more miserable as Lina, her mother, her brother, and their new friend Andrius and his mother arrive at a work camp in Siberia. Forced to work in frigid temperatures, their nightmares are far from being over! Will they survive the harsh winter ahead? And, how can Lina’s father possibly find them in the middle of nowhere?
The storyline of Between Shades of Gray was so compelling and well-written that I honestly couldn’t put it down! The way the author, Ruta Sepetys, told the story and created these characters was truly amazing! I felt like I was reading a non-fiction book rather than fiction.
Even though this book was a difficult read, I still fell in love with it because the protagonists never lost their hope or love for each other throughout their time in the prison camps. Everyone wanted to help one another, and even the sickest person’s life was worth fighting for.
I loved how this book was one of hope, not just sorrow! There may be times when there is only darkness around you, but one day the sun will show itself again, and you’ll know that everything is going to be okay! Between Shades of Gray is an incredible book; I recommend that everyone should read it!
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