Publication Date: 7th April 2011
One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.
Sepetys being a debut author and all, I didn't know what exactly to expect when I picked up Between Shades of Gray, but it wasn't even all about the whole debut thing, it was mainly me being scared that it was too sad for me to read. But it's purely wowness.
Between Shades of Gray follows the life of Lina, a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl. Along with the rest of her family, Lina has been arrested and taken from her home in Lithuania, just to be boarded onto a big lorry full of other people from her country, so that they can be taken to Siberia..far, far away from the comforts of their own home. They are then forced to work in extreme conditions, without proper shelter, and very little food to live off.
I honestly don't even know what to write here, because I know for a fact that anything I write will *never* be able to do Lina's story any justice. The novel opened my eyes and taught me so many things about what exactly went on during WWII, and although I've always been quite interested in stuff like this, I never knew about the horrible, horrible things the people of Lithuania (and so many other countries) had to go through, but I'm sure that I stand amongst a fair amount of people who didn't either. It was so hard thinking about how this isn't just a work of fiction, but all based on real things in this very much real world.
I won't talk about the NKVD officers who I feel ashamed to call human beings, who treated the situation like it was all just some sort of game, and I won't talk about how Between Shades of Gray left me sobbing into my pillow, but I'll tell you that if you do choose/have to read one book this year, make it this, because trust me, it will completely change the way you look at everything.
Even though Between Shades of Gray is one of the most heart-breaking stories I've ever read, there still seems to be the most amazing things that shine brightly throughout the novel, all the love that manages to blossom, and the hope - despite everything that the characters of the novel had to go through, there's still a sense of hope in the novel. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
Between Shades of Gray is a powerful, tragic, krasivaya novel, that I think you should read. And then read again. And then buy another copy of. And buy your whole family copies too, while you're at it.
Watch this video of Ruta discussing BSoG.
Go here to watch Ruta Septys answer my question, "Which part of Between Shades of Gray was the hardest to write - mentally and physically?"
(I just realised that this is a semi-good review and I really need to mention how much I loved the name Kostas. I just LOVE it. I really do. There needs to be a KOSTAS in EVERY BOOK. Is it weird that I noticed that? And..made a big deal?! Do YOU notice names/other little details like this?)