Monday, July 6, 2015

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

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. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Between Shades of Gray grips your heart at page one and slowly begins to dig it's nails in with each page you turn. It's an emotional book about survival and how having hope can make a world of difference.
Lina and her family are deported and we get to experience the journey through paragraphs of words. Each sentence holds a certain punch and each tiny mark of punctuation pulls out a new emotion. It's not always pretty, but it's a story that's felt deep within the soul. I couldn't believe all that Lina went through. The way she was treated made me sick. To think that there are people out there that experienced the life in which these characters lived makes my heart hurt. It was an awful way of life and so many were lost during this historical time. Children, adults, women, and men... Some even lost their selves. They were broken down, stripped of all rights, and left with little dignity. It truly makes you appreciate the life you live and all of the privileges that you take for granted each day.
I can't say enough good things about this book. The writing was flawless and the story is one that is all consuming. I loved the way everything played out and I especially loved the quaint hints of romance. It wasn't an in your face love, but more of an I will do everything to protect you kind of love. It is definitely going on my all time favorites list. I recommend it to anyone that loves stories with an utter rawness that will leave you breathless at times.

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