Read Time: Two Days
Tag Words: World War II, Historical Fiction, The Holocaust, Soviet, Stalin, Hitler, Lithuania, Artists, survival, death, grief, freedom, true love, prayer
Lina is a budding artist in Lithuania, preparing for the coming summer full of life and promise when the Soviet soldiers order her, her mother and her little brother to pack and come with them, or die.
They are being sentenced to 25 years in the prison of Stalin’s choosing, Siberia.
Lina risks it all while unjustly incarcerated to record her new life through the strokes of her artists pencils and she vows, she will live, she will fight, she will live.
How do you review a book like this? ‘It’s awesome,’ just doesn’t seem to be enough. This book told a story, just as every book does, but Between Shades of Gray does something more, it tells a story that really happened and has never been told before.
I went through a major phase when I was younger and all I would read was books about the suffering of those who were taken in the Holocaust, I even read a book about a girl who was taken to Siberia- though I can’t remember what it was called and I wish I did! I know a lot about the Holocaust, and Stalin’s involvement in things, but I am still shocked by what I read when I pick up a story of survival, such as Lina’s tale.
Sepetys framed her characters as if in individual portraits, I really felt like I was experiencing the horrors and unjust conditions through the eyes of an artist. That was something entirely unique, as was the love of Andrius and Lina. I would love a sequel to this book where the author wrote about Andrius’s journey to find Lina again when Stalin’s reign of terror finally ended.
This book should be required reading.
Notes on the Names:
Carrying on with the theme of framing the characters I noticed that many of them were not given names, but titles:
The Bald Man
The Man Who Winds His Watch
The Grouchy Woman
Thoughts on the Cover:
This cover makes me smile, look at that hope!
Parental Book Review *spoilers*
The sexual content is more like violence.
Soviet Soldiers leering at Lina and the women.
A Soviet Soldier touching Lina’s breast when she is naked.
Attempted rape that does not happen to one of the MCs therefor you never really “see” it.
Andrius and Lina kiss a few times, but it is very pure and sweet, a beautiful contrast to the horrors around them.
I am not going to be very graphic here, because I think no matter what a book such as this is important. The violent atrocities that happened to millions of people should not be ignored in any way and that includes reading what really happened to them, not shying away because it is uncomfortable. That being said I would recommend any teen, from thirteen onward to read this one because I think Sepetys
handled the violence with taste and class and purpose.