A powerful and haunting debut novel about a little-known slice of history.
Lina is just like any other 15-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.
©2011 Ruta Sepetys (P)2011 Penguin Audio
Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere
Lina is a 15 year old Lithunian girl who is transported with her family and other intellectuals like cattle on a train to Siberia. The beginning starts like many of the heart-wrenching novels about the atrocities of Hitler during WWII, however, veers on a diferent course of the untold horrors of what happened when Stalin's Russia marched in. Lina and family fight to stay alive in the biting cold, working on a beet farm berated by soldiers and treated like trash.
Despite the unbearable conditions, Lina finds strength and draws and documents the events and details of their condition in secret; manages to make a friend in Andress; and fights each day to save her family and persevere. This is a tale of the determination of the human spirit as told through the eyes of a young girl.
Ruta Sepetys delved into her own Lithuanian roots and discovered much of what she uses in this work of historical fiction. Truly breathtaking and frighteningly real, this novel transcends the bounds of your typical YA novel. Just when you thought you knew everything about 1941, a story like this sweeps in to shed light on another untold tale. Be sure to keep listening to the prologue and interview with the author; simply amazing.
Historical fiction that is sad, but well worth the listen. An engrossing story and good writing make this book very good, even though the story is serious and sad.
This is a great story told in first person of a teen Lithuanian. Her family was subjected to Stalin's government brutality of other nations' people during WWII.
The most memorable moment for me was when Lena and her family were sent to the Arctic to work for the NKDV.
This is a wonderful story about World War II that hasn't been told before. This is a story about family, friendship and love in extreme conditions. The piece that was most emotional was listening to the author state her "author's note" at the end of the book. It is obvious that this story is very close to her heart.
I found this to be a wonderful young adult story. It brings to light a part of this time of history that most people are not aware. Everyone knew that there were bad things happening in Europe with Hitler as that tends to be the focal point of history, but there were similar things happening in other countries as well. I felt that the narrator connected with the story, I really felt she was the character and not just reading me the story.
I would recommend this one!
I great book about surving the death camps during WWII. The book is told by one person who is taken from her home with her family and sent to a death camp in Siberia. It is an amazing book that tell the story of love surviving in impossible conditions.
Wow...this is a difficult review to write because this was such an incredible, emotionally powerful story, I’m having a hard time finding the right words. I do want to say that Emily Klein did an OUTSTANDING job narrating this audio. I’m so glad that I chose to download the audio from Audible. Emily Klein’s narration was such that it immediately pulled me into the story and I felt like I was listening to Lina as she recounted what happened to her and her family. I also especially enjoyed listening to the author explain, at the end of the audio, a bit about the history behind this story and her inspiration for writing this book. I was completely clueless about this part of history but it’s certainly a story that needs to be told.
Between Shades of Gray tells a fictional story based around historical events that I am ashamed to say I was not aware of. During the time that Hitler was in power, he made a pact of non-aggression with Stalin in Russia which ceded several countries including Lithuania to Stalin. Stalin began arresting everyone who he believed may have anti-soviet leanings, men, women and children. Between Shades of Gray begins with Lina and her family being dragged from their home at gunpoint without explanation, loaded onto trains and shipped off. They had no idea where they were headed, all they knew was that there were hundreds of others in the same situation as they were, shoved like animals in a cattle cart on a train far away from everything they know. Lina tells about the journey, the struggles, the atrocities, and the kindnesses they found in the most unexpected places along the way.
It was those unexpected kindnesses and the moments of compassion and quiet strength that the author highlighted so beautifully that it left me a sobbing mess several times. The needless cruelties of some of the guards were in some ways shocking, but in some ways expected, because, far too often, its people that enjoy causing others’ misery that usually seek out these positions of power. One of the things that the author was able to convey was that, it is in the most dire circumstances that the truth of a person’s character becomes known. I think that some people would be surprised at some of the cruel things they may be willing to do to each other for the sake of their family’s and their own survival, just as I think they would be surprised at what they would be willing to risk in order to help a stranger. It’s amazing how far the human spirit can bend without ever being broken, and even then come back from such a unimaginably horrific ordeal and somehow be stronger and wiser and still have the capacity for love and compassion. Between Shades of Gray contains layer upon layer of truths about human nature, about love, about hope, and about determination intertwined into this heartfelt story that on the surface seems so hopeless and sad. The fact that the survivors of this had the foresight to bury the photos and letters and records of this time period so that their story could one day be told just astounds me.
I think that Between Shades of Gray is such an important story for a few reasons. First, to acknowledge what happened to the millions of Lithuanian people who died in these prisons and camp and those who survived to tell the story. Also, to be aware of the things a corrupt system is capable of. I recommend Between Shades of Gray to everyone.
I was hooked on the character of Lina and her story from the first moment. So much of what the author wrote resonated with my own Lithuanian family’s history. In fact, the book somehow made that history more real—probably because the author colored in real historical details that I’d never asked about or even imagined.
Gripping, revealatory, thoughtchanger!
The main young lady
Such a great speaker
Seeing their fathers face looking up at them from under the train, the forgotten loaf of bread, so many others...
I feel like it was me that lived through it....I'd listen on my 35 minute commute everyday, sat in the car at lunch, at home, in the coffee shop and when it was over-THEN I could take a breath.....
What a great listen/read. Can't recommend this enough. A gripping story...that will make you a bit smarter about a VERY important period of history too. This book will make you ask yourself: would I have survived? would I have loved, hoped, and fought as they did?
Can't wait for more from this author, what an amazing first book and an important story to share with us all.
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