Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Not to be confused with the popular novel 50 Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a powerful novel following the life of a Lithuanian girl through the trials of Stalin’s rule in Russia.

Fifteen year old Lina has a lot going for her. She’s a talented artist and plans on going to one of the best art schools in the coming fall. But one night, after her father doesn’t come home from work, she’s drug from her home by the NKVD and thrown into a box car with her mother, brother Jonas, and plenty of strangers. There she meets Andrius, a boy whose father is in the army. They become friends through their journey to Siberia where they work in a camp for almost a year. But one day, when Lina, Jonas, and their mother are packed in a truck to go to another camp she has to say good bye to the boy who helped them survive for so long. Will see ever see Andrius again? And what had happened to her father? These are just two of the questions that keep her alive and going for the next 12 years.

The book is 338 pages and 85 chapters and an epilogue, but don’t let that chase you away. Each chapter is no more than 10 pages, and the writing isn’t complex, making the book  an easy and fast read. I think that Sepetys did an amazing job at capturing the feelings of each character, pulling at the emotions of the reader so they have a sense of what hardships the people living in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia experienced during this time.

I had originally bought this book for my friend because I thought it was about the Holocaust (a subject we are both deeply fascinated by). Even though it isn’t I’m still glad I bought it and read it. I think that this book needs to be included in reading lists for schools and read world wide. It has such a powerful story and the impact it leaves on readers will surely live on. With many people in the world denying the Holocaust even happened, we can’t let the story of the people placed into slavery or put to death during Stalin’s reign die either.

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