Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Have you ever thought about how much a human life is worth? On that morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.
In 1941, Fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the soviet secret police barge biolently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. SHe risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.
It is a long a harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?
I sat in awe for minutes after finishing this book. I was heartbroken, happy, scared, and frozen. I can't even think right now! This book was so beautiful in so many ways and it just reached right into my heart and tore it open the whole time I was reading. It's so captivating.
Between Shades of Gray is the untold story of all the people who lost their lives in Siberia. It is Lina Vilkas's story. And it all starts when she and her brother and her mother are taken from their home in Lithuania and put on a cattle car. They don't have any idea where they are going, and the don't know why. All they are worried about is being able to eat, and staying together. When a soldier tries to take away Lina's younger brother, Jonas, their mother bargains him with a watch. That's how important his life was to the soldier. And that was just the begining. Six weeks on a cattle car, disease, death, a public shower and a grope from the commander is just the begining. Lina, as a girl, is very vulnerable. And her new-found friend Andrius Arvyday knows it. Together she, Andrias, and Jonas along with her mother and other Lithuanians in their cattle car, stick together when they arrive in Siberia. They are weak with fatigue and their muscles are nothing. And they are being sent to work. Relying on each other, the hope that their families are still alive, and the will to live, Lina, Andrius, and Jonas are three strong spirits who will stop at nothing to save themselves and their families.
Lina is one of the best characters I've ever read about. She is just so determined to live. She is strong and brave and cunning. She is beautiful even though she is caked with dirt and lice. No matter what obstacle comes her way, she has such a desire to live, that I found myself rooting for her throughout the whole book. She is such a loving person for her family and so protective of them, but at the same time has such a strong hatred for Stalin and the NKVD's. I was willing her on throughout the whole book. Everytime she felt defeated my heart just expanded and I urged her to keep her head held high and to never give up or lose hope.
I've recently read other books about the Holocaust and this book is really similar in so many ways, but yet, it is so different. It's unique and itself. It reminds me of one of the words in the book: Krasivaya. I'd give you the definition, but that word is for you to find out on your own and a secret to the book.
Heartfelt and horriying at times, I doubt anyone can read this book and not be moved by it. This is Ruta Sepetys's first novel, and after reading it I have to say that I cannot wait for her second. It's a must read and it will change the lives of many. I waited in agony for this book, after many techinal problems with the shipping, and I have to say, it was worth the wait. I'm still in awe.
Overall Rating: 5 Stars