Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: April 7, 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Philomel Books
Rating: 10 out of 10
Recommended? Yes. You’d be crazy not to read this.
Buy the Book: Amazon US
The book starts off with Lina and her family being taken from their home in Lithuania by Soviet guards and deported to Siberia. The beginning gripped me, as there was no slow starts, and I was immediately thrown into the story and captivated.
A lot of the book takes place in very, very confined spaces, and the descriptions during these scenes – as well as throughout the book – were horrifically vivid. I felt so connected with this story that I felt enclosed, even claustrophobic, and I had to keep putting the book down to give myself a chance to calm down.
In the four schools I have been to, during history classes, we learnt a lot about Hitler. I think that’s a given, no matter where you are from. What we didn’t learn, however, was anything at all about Stalin. Or the Soviet Union. Or the millions upon millions of people who were deported from countries such as Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. If we wanted to know about that aspect of WW2, then we had to research for ourselves. Reading this book gave me such a fantastic first person account (albeit fictional) of what it was like to be one of those people who were deported, shoved into crammed cattle cars, and forced to work for the Soviets. It has made me realise that despite researching on the internet, I know next to nothing about what went on in those years. I am horrified that while we were being taught about Hitler’s new education system, and the Brits saving the day, that is barely touching the surface.
The main characters in this book were all amazing. They had so many different sides to them, and they weren’t boring in the slightest. Each and every one of them touched my heart. I am amazed that no matter how bad things got – and believe me, things got terrifying – they managed to pull through, and look out for each other in ways that that I could never have imagined.
If you don’t pick this book up, you’re crazy. This is one of the first historical that I have read in years, and it’s definitely one of the best out there. From what I’ve seen, anyway. The story is truly heartbreaking, and I applaud Ruta Sepetys for writing such an honest and gripping novel. It left my speechless.