Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published by: Philomel Books
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
Wow. I'm not sure if it's just this story or the fact that listening to it made it feel so real, but this story captivated me and touched me in a way I haven't felt in a long time.
Lina's story was breathtaking, beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. This is a story of fighters and survival. I don't have words to describe how powerful Lina's story was. At first she was just a common girl placed in a horrible situation, but then she learned how to adapt to her surroundings, but also remembered her roots and thrived to survive her grueling circumstances.
We often talk about how fierce and kick-butt we like our heroines, and for me Lina had all these qualities, but she wasn't fighting vampires or zombies, she was fighting prejudice, ignorance and hatred. I cannot image how she must have felt, or how anyone must feel by being hated not for something you did, but for who your ancestors are.
At first, I thought this story would be one of the Nazi and that aspect of the war, but instead I got an eye opening encounter of some of the horror that Stalin inflicted. I never remember studying this in history, so it was new and completely mind blowing to hear this. Their experiences from the filth and disease infested train car, to being starved and over worked, and finally surviving the arctic temperatures was something I won't soon forgot.
I really don't have the words to do this story justice, but just trust me when I say this is a must read.