Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review - Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys

Synopsis: (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.

Why I Picked this Book:  I have always had a very soft spot in my heart for Holocaust survival stories.  When I saw this story circulating in the blogger world, I knew I needed it.

My Thoughts:
Talk about a heart-wrencher.

Between Shades of Gray takes place during the second World War.  Unlike most survival stories from this time that tell the struggles of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, this book instead tells the story of a young girl from Lithuania, who is arrested with her family and sent to a prison camp under Stalin's rule.  The events, stories, and tragedies that unfold break your heart, pull at tears, then leave you with the hope that no matter what, you can survive.

Lina's character, to me, felt very well formed.  She was a young girl, vaguely aware of the world around her.  Full of her dreams to create art and fall in love.  When the unthinkable happened and her world was destroyed around her, she used her passions to pull her through.  This young girl was forced to grow up much faster than life normally demands, and she fought for every second.

I do have to add: This is a fictional piece.  Based on true events, with some of the atrocities most likely too close to the true story, the overall plot is fictional.

I myself have always been one to devour books from this time of mankind.  The events that happened, the pain and loss, life and lessons, I feel are some of the most powerful and intense out there.  Every person should learn these stories.  And remember them.

While Between Shades of Gray was a fictional piece, the story feels real.  Every moment feels as if it did happen.  The love story was just enough to exist, but not to overpower.  The family ties were astounding.   It was real life, in all of its horrible splendor.

It may be hard for some to read.  Though not as explicit as other survival stories, there are instances that may be too much for some one not used to this genre.

The only negative I can think of is that I would have liked it if the ending didn't so abruptly.  While it was true to life, it would have been nice to see more of a wrap-up.

Between Shades of Gray reminds you that no matter hardships you have in your life, there is always hope.  You must always keep fighting.  I commend  Sepetys for writing this novel for all of us to read.  It was beautiful, with all of its non-beauty.

My Rating
(5 out of 5 stars)


Jenny S. Morris said...

I totally agree. I like reading about this time period. And, her story opened my eyes to situations I was completely aware of. This is one of those books that will stay with me forever.
Great Review!

Shallee said...

I LOVED this book. It was beautiful and haunting and amazing. Thanks for your review!

Kelley said...

I also have a soft-spot for these kinds of books. Adding to my TBR list!


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