Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Between Shades of Gray

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pages: 344
Rating: 4/5 Stars
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Lina led a normal, teenage life in Lithuania, when one day Soviet officers marched into her home and threw her whole family on board cramped train cars where they traveled over 6,000 miles to the Arctic Circle. As Lina is forced to pay the price for crimes she never committed, she struggles to stay alive.

When you hear about the Holocaust, you probably instantly think of Hitler, and all the people he killed. What most people don't know is that Joseph Stalin was responsible for just as many ruined lives. In an attempt to get Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania off the map, he rounded up anybody who was linked to anti-soviet beliefs, and sent them to labor camps in Siberia and other remote places. This novel tells the untold story of the many, many people who suffered under Stalin's rule.

This was an amazing, powerful novel about a will to live, a will to survive, and a will to spread the word. Ruta Sepetys herself has Lithuanian heritage, and that's what inspired her to write this novel. Most of the people imprisoned didn't get to share their story in fear of being arrested, and I think it's really great that Ruta wants to show the world just how awful things were for those Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians.

But besides the fact that this book has a very emotional origin, let's discuss how great the plot is. It's full of dark, dark detail. Death and sickness is around every corner. But between all the despair, there is hope and a will to survive. While this book seems quite dismal at first glance, it has a hidden ray of happiness and warmth. I enjoyed how complex many of the characters were. There were many angels in disguise, and it was really heartwarming.

 Something I've always liked about historical fiction novels that take place during WWII is how we get to put real people next to the statistics. Yes, we know lots of people died in the Holocaust, but until you read a book about an individual who experienced it all, you don't realize that those people actually had lives. Suddenly, it makes the whole thing a lot more personal. 

So I would greatly suggest you read this novel if you'd like to learn about the unknown heroes of World War II. 

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