Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Between Shades of Gray review

Lina is a 15-year-old girl, living in Lithuania in 1941. She has a nice house, a lovely family, and is fairly content with her life exactly as it is, spending time with friends and crushing on boys. One night, Soviet soldiers burst into her home, forcing Lina, her younger brother, and her mother into the back of a truck, along with several of her neighbors. Lina is confused and scared about what is happening to her family...what they've done wrong...and most of all, where her father has been taken to.

Lina's family ends up being deported to Siberia, forced to suffer through horrific conditions, including starvation, lack of clothing and proper shelter, hard labor, and constant humiliation and physical abuse. Considered political criminals by Stalin for being anti-Soviet, they, along with hundreds of thousands of other people across Eastern Europe, are no longer given any control over their own lives. They are slaves.

Despite the life that Lina now leads, she still shows the spunk of a 15-year-old girl. She takes risks, determined to continue her art and find a way to locate her father, and she finds herself interested in a mysterious boy. Her spirit, though darkened, has not been lost, which is essential to her survival. Sepetys wrote Lina as a girl who must work through a horrible experience, rather than a historical novel that happens to feature a girl. I loved that aspect.

I also learned SO much about what happened in Eastern Europe during the 1940's. As many other reviewers have stated, in school we're taught so much about Hitler and Germany, that Stalin and the Siberian labor camps are often overlooked or simply not mentioned at all. It's not only our responsibility to know that this really happened to people, but to continue the conversation forever. It's our history. Maybe this book can open up a line of communication in homes and schools, not just about these particular labor camps, but also about what's happening around the world RIGHT NOW. Bad things are still happening friends.

The writing was beautiful, simple, yet incredibly emotional. You'll easily be able to connect with Lina and feel what she feels, through the manner in which Sepetys writes. It's a tender book, filled with physical and emotional pain, but such an important read.

A great crossover novel too...I've had a lot of adults pick it up and report back that they really loved the writing. Beautiful, beautiful cover too.

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
338 pages
Young Adult
March 2011


1 comment: said...

I love historical fiction about World War II. I'm so glad to hear that you liked this book!