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.
I feel that no matter what we talk about, a certain group always gets left out. Sepetys reminds us of the others who were not Jewish that lost a lot during World War II. Between Shades of Gray speaks of a beautifully heartbreaking story of millions that we should be listening too.
Often I go into a novel without reading the summary. In other words, I’m blind to the plot or characters. Instead of being confused, I automatically understood what was going on from the first page. Between Shades of Gray tells Lina’s story at an even pace, never crowding or stopping the action. Sepetys’s prose is simple, captivating the innocence of the characters easily. At times it is hard to believe the author did not face the events herself.
I very much enjoyed the characters in this novel. Sepetys includes different people with different views on the situation they are in. You get the point of views of the hopeful, depressed and everyone imbetween which makes you feel for each and every one of them. There is also wonderful character and relationship development in the main characters that I wish I saw in real people.
One thing I absolutely loved about the novel is the relationship between Lina and Andrius. They start off as friends, but as you read you know there is more between them. I really felt for the characters. You know a book is good when you squeal, laugh and cry as if you were the main female character.
Rating: 4.5 / 5