Book Review | Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

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A moving and haunting novel for readers of The Book Thief Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive? This powerful tale of heartbreak and hope is sure to haunt readers long after they finish the last page. 

Between Shades Of Gray is unofficially one of the most profound novels that I've read this year. Ruta Sepetys pens a novel which is hauntingly reminiscent of Anne Frank,  yet on the opposite side of the coin. I humbly admit that I had no idea that a forced removal of Lithuanians took place before Hitler rein. I consider it an honor to have read a novel that aims to tell their stories, especially in Young Adult fiction.

This novel is told from the perspective of Lina, a young fifteen year old artist, and opens on the night that she and her family are taken away from their home. From that moment, Lina, her mother, and younger brother embark on a heartbreaking and tiresome journey that tests the very fabric of their family, and their fellow people. Lina is portrayed very effectively, a beautiful mingling of hope and confusion. There are moments that I truly wanted to shake her because of her seeming selfishness, yet, it all comes from her desperation to find her father, and make it through this time of testing. I adored her mother. She is such a lovely symbol of hope and strength. She and Lina's younger brother are two characters that lift this work from being completely heartbreaking to having great faith amidst often tragic difficulties. 

Andrius is also a wonderful character to experience. I loved the dynamic between he and Lina, the challenge they pose for each other. Lina and Andrius develop a subtly profound romance in the midst of such dismal realities. I loved every minute of it. Ruta Sepetys has a beautiful way with infusing hopeful moments that almost make every struggle they endure worth it. Nothing is completely hopeless, because many of the characters that Lina and her family encounter look to small yet profound ways of keeping their love alive.

The only thing I found that I loved and hated about this book is the ending. To those of you who have read this novel, did you experience the same need for more closure? Nevertheless, this does not detract from its profundity.

Bare in mind: This novel contains some violence, and disturbing scenarios.

Between Shades of Gray embodies many of the great autobiographical accounts of genocide. Even as a work of fiction, before long, I came to see Lina, her family, and friends as real people, thus making Ruta Sepetys' desire for this work a reality. It was a truly powerful and moving story that I'm sure will continue to intrigue many for generations on!

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I give Between Shades Gray by Ruta Sepetys 4 out of 5 cups of Prince of Wales tea.

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