When i found Between Shades of Gray at the bargain price of just £1 in a charity shop i was so over excited to start reading my first Ruta Sepetys novel. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things from the author and finally getting in to one of her novels honestly made me see why she is so well loved.
Title: Between Shades Of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA, Historial, War
Publication Date: 7th of April 2011
Summary: 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.
Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . .
Will hope keep Lina alive?
Sixteen year old Lina is taken from her home, along with her mother and brother under Stalin’s orders. They are forced to work and live under cruel conditions, with people around them dying one by one. All Lina can do is wait, draw and try to survive.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”
This is the first historical novel i’ve read in a very (very) long time. Most of all i know very little about Stalin and Lithuania’s involvement in the second World War. This book actually managed to educate me some what. Okay someone like me had to do a little bit of googling to understand why the characters were being taken and what was actually happening to them, but overall the story was told in a clear and understandable way that made it utterly enjoyable.
One of the best parts to this novel i found is the small bits of information we get about Lina’s past. They are written in italics every so often throughout and show how much her life has changed and how happy she used to be with her family. It wasn’t so much that it felt like you were getting two stories in one (i’ve found most novels that do this to have that feel).
I completely fell in love with the characters. It is clear that Lina and her brother, Jonas are close. Their family bond is what gets them through the most difficult times in the novel and that was told beautifully. Another great thing that i haven’t seen done in a long time is character development. Jonas is only ten when he is taken by the soviet guards. By the end of the novel you see this small, young boy who should be doing childish things, grow up in to a man under forced conditions. He takes care of his family and does whatever he can by them. This was shown in the writing and done absolutely perfectly.
At the start, we meet Andrius, a young, charming boy who is also just trying to survive the best he can with his mother. My stomach twisted as i thought of an awkward YA romance forced in to this wonderfully tragic novel. Throughout the rest of the novel i dreaded the moment when Lina and Andrius would become a couple and that would be the focus. I was delighted when that didn’t happen. Their friendship and love was told with passion and safety and that’s what i wanted from their relationship. It made me beyond happy it didn’t turn in to another cliche.
I think i could talk forever about how much i loved this novel and all the really great parts of it, but this review would definitely become far too long. Between Shades of Gray is the first novel in a long time that i have absolutely loved with no flaws. Over anything it explores the suffering of innocents in the war, along with the passion they had to make it home and survive. I adored it.