Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel Books

Series Status: Stand Alone

Page Count: 344

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: 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.

Review: I don’t know if I can truly describe this book. Some say it was beautiful, but it is not. This book is not pretty, it is not beautiful, it is nothing like that. It is sad, hard, and hits you in the gut. It’s horrible, but it is beautifully written and told.

This novel tells of the side of World War II that you never hear about, a side I have never learned about, but I knew it existed. It is just rarely spoken about and is overshadowed by and equally devastating tragedy we all know as the Holocaust. I loved every second of this. I love historical fiction, especially ones that take place in this era. I learned a lot from this book.

The horrors that the characters had to go through in this are unimaginable. I really enjoyed reading in Lina’s perspective about her journey and hardships.

I really liked all of the characters, I thought they were all really interesting, and I loved reading about them. The author did a really good job of writing this as if I was actually reading through a 15 year olds eyes.

I loved the slight romance that happened between Lina and Andruis. It was really nice that even in the conditions they were in, they could still learn to love. This book was inspiring. It was full of hope and love and faith, in the midst of death and despair and sadness.

I really wanted to give this 5 stars but there was just something that I felt was missing. Maybe it dragged out a little too much, or maybe I am just used to a lot of romance, I’m not sure.

I give this 4.5/5 stars and would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction.

For more reviews from readers of Between Shades of Gray, click here.


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