Friday, 5 February 2016

Book Review - Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, War. 

Published: June 9 2011

Pages: 344 pages (Paperback) (Penguin)

Read: January 8 2016 - January 9 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Book 2/65 - 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge

I fell in love with Ruta Sepetys writing and her writing style last year when I read 'Out of the Easy', Ruta Sepetys second novel. And I just had to dive into her debut especially since all I heard about this book was praise.

I added this book to my Christmas wishlist and got it, which I was so happy about. I then dived into this book as soon as I could. I am a massive fan of Historical Fiction novels and the reason that I picked up this book is simply because 1, it was Ruta Sepetys and 2, she told a story about a part of the war that is not highlighted in the history texts. 

I went into this book knowing that it would be brutal. I knew that it was going to bring up so many emotions in me. I knew I would end up crying because every person who has read this book has said the same. 

And boy, did I cry. Lina's story is such a remarkably hard story to read. There is this constant worry as I read through this book. Worry for Lina, worry for her brother, worry for her family and worry for everyone else that ultimately became their family as they tried to survive. 

Lina was an admirable character. She was such a strong heroine, for herself, for her brother, for her family. I really connected with Lina and felt a lot of emotions for her as I read her story. I wanted everything to be ok for her. She was just such an amazing character. Through everything, she kept her head. She ultimately survived this unbelievable and harsh circumstance in her life. 

Honestly, I can't believe what these people had to suffer through and I admire Ruta Sepetys for bringing this topic into the public eye, for allowing young adults and adults alike to see through the eyes of a fictional character as she survived through what hundreds and thousands of people had to go through when Stalin was dictating. 

I also enjoyed the way Ruta Sepetys brought a little conflicted romance into this story. It was a tiny ray of hope in the darkness of this book.  It was something, other than the survival of the characters, to put your hope on.

I just loved this remarkable story and I  have no more words to explain the deep feelings that I had while I was reading this book and even now after I've finished it for over a few weeks those feelings are still there.

I literally cannot wait to get my hands on Ruta Sepetys new novel 'Salt to the Sea', because I know that it will be just as extraordinary as this, Between Shades of Gray, and Out of the Easy were. 

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