Thursday, November 7, 2013

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books, March 2011, 344 pgs
Physical Book (I think I bought on Amazon)
Official Summary

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.

My Thoughts

I never would have made it through Between Shades of Gray if it hadn’t been a bookclub choice.  The writing was beautiful and I was largely unaware of the work camps Russia had run during WWII – I’m glad I read this for that reason alone.  I just found it too depressing and hopeless and I haven’t been able to figure out why I struggle so much with this novel when I’ve read and enjoyed concentration camp novels, slavery novels, Apartheid novels, etc. 

There were a few moments of light (dim and brief) throughout the novel and I grasp at these the best I could to get through the book, but I’m pretty sure I’m the problem on this one so I’m not going to rate it.

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