Saturday, April 2, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

genre: young adult

When Lithuania became a part of Stalin’s reign of terror, at the beginning of World War II, Lina’s world began to slowly unravel. When she is thrown into a truck with her mother and brother, she has no idea of where they are being taken or why they have to leave home at all. Her fifteen years of life didn’t prepare her for the horror of life under the thumb of Russian soldiers.

I’ve read a lot of stories about young adults during the Second World War, many stories of Jewish youth who had to survive concentration camps or work camps and stories of those who helped. Like all other victims of the atrocities of this period of time, Lina and her family were just citizens. Just people. Stalin decided they were a threat and so he had them put in train cars at gunpoint and sent them away.

This is a heartbreaking story. It’s carefully crafted, with flashbacks that flesh out Lina’s life in Lithuania and help us understand how much she’s lost. It’s a story of survival and keeping hope even during the darkest hours of oppression. Her mother is an exemplary character; I hope I would have as much strength and empathy in that situation. It’s not an easy tale to read, but I can't think of anything I'd really change. I'd have liked the "love" storyline to be developed a tiny bit more, but honestly, Sepetys tells a really realistic story. It would be awesome if we could all fall in love and have everything work out awesome but sometimes, life just did not work out that way. I appreciated how true her young adult voice was - I believed in Lina. Her thoughts felt very real.

Make sure to read the author’s note when you're finished with this moving story, it made me appreciate the ending even more.


bermudaonion said...

I can't tell you how much I loved this book. Since members of my family survived deportation to Siberia, it was very personal for me.

We Heart YA said...

If you liked this, then you might like THE BOOK THIEF too. (You might also have read it already, lol.)

But thanks for the review. It sounds like a very compelling book, and I like the unusual subject matter. (Unusual in a genre dominated by vampires and angels and the like, I mean.)

Anna said...

I can't wait to read this book! I'm No. 12 on hold at the library and becoming more impatient every day. Glad to see you really liked it. I will link to your review on War Through the Generations.

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