Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Set during WWII, Lina is a regular 15 year old Lithuanian girl, until the night Soviet soldiers come to her house and take her mother, brother, and her away.  Lina is put onto a train with other Lithuanians then shipped off to live in harsh conditions at a Soviet work camp.  She has been separated from her father, with only a hint of where he is.  A talented artist, Lina attempts to send drawings to her father in hopes that he will know that she and her family are still alive, and that when this nightmare is all over he will be able to find them.

This novel is amazingly moving, and based on real events that very few people know about.  The action starts very quickly, as the novel opens with Lina and her family being taken.  You only get glimpses of her life before through Lina's flashbacks.  The author took trips to Lithuania and met with survivors of the Soviet genocide.  I tried looking up information on the setting so I could get a better handle on the book, but even at that I could not find much definitive information about the Soviet genocide.  According to the author's afterward, those who survived the work camps had to make it through at least 10 years there.  Once they were free they were under constant surveillance, and unable to talk about or relate their experiences to anyone for fear that they would be shipped back.

I am very glad that I read this book, I want to learn more about what happened to these people.  The author said that Stalin may have killed 20 million people during this time period, but we rarely hear about it.  The only thing I didn't like about this book is that I wanted more of an epilogue from the characters.  We get a short note from Lina that someone finds later on, but I want to read at least a little bit about her life after the end of the novel because it feels a little rushed and unfinished.

No comments: