Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Review)

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“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.” 

Between Shades of Gray follows the journey of Lina and her family after Soviet Guards barged into their home to deport them to Siberia. Despite her grim circumstances Lina doesn’t give up hope and she draws her journey hoping one day she can show the world. Between Shades of Gray takes place in 1941, and it is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

I have read a couple of World War Two books, but not in the perspective in which Between Shades of Gray is written from. I didn’t know about the Soviets deporting the Europeans and the hardship that they had to go through. So it did really open my eyes to another side of WWII, which can be forgotten and ignored. Between Shades of Gray was beautifully written, simple, but still beautiful and made you care and love the characters on the pages. The Mother (Elena) was a very strong, brave and a kind character, and definitely one of my favourites.

Lina is also very strong, like her mother, and her will to survive makes her a character I admire. Instead of being defeated in the situation she is in, she decides to write and draw the atrocities that’s going on around in order to try and tell the world. Between Shades of Gray is a grim and not a pretty book as Sepetys doesn’t try to avoid the horrors which these people faced, but she does still manage to give the characters hope, despite their situations.

I found Andrius a great character also, and I think that the love he had for Lina is obvious and they supported each other when they needed someone most. It’s a moving story and a genuine development.

“Good men are often more practical than pretty ” said Mother. “Andrius just happens to be both.” 

This is a seriously engaging story that may make you cry because it’s meant to convey such an important message – that these people were ignored by the rest of the world. The Nazi’s were the priority at this time, and there are several points within the story that it states that German would help them when they invaded Lithuania, but the two evils are the same.

Ruta Sepetys is an amazing author that depicts the events with such clarity and feeling that it should not be ignored.

Between Shades of Gray is a heart-wrenching book about survival, love and hope and any fans of Historical Fiction should definitely pick this one up!

RATING: ★★★★★

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