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4.6 7
Young Adult Fiction 12200
A Must Read!
Overall rating
Writing Style
This a beautifully written story about WWII that I've never heard before but one that needs to be told. Normally, when I think about WWII, I automatically think about the Holocaust which was horrific in and of itself but in "Between Shades of Gray" author, Ruta Sepetys, shares the stories of the Lithuanians who were under Josef Stalin and Soviet rule. There were hundreds of thousands of people from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that were deported and forced into labor and refugee camps in Siberia. They were imprisoned for over a decade and many died of starvation, disease or were killed and those who did manage to survive were treated like criminals even though they had done nothing wrong.

"Between Shades Of Gray" is told from the point of view of 15 year old, Lina, and her family as they are forced to leave their home in Lithuania. She begins a long and difficult journey along with her mother, Elena and her 10 year old brother, Jonas. Her father has been taken also but the family doesn't know what has happened to him. Lina and Jonas are forced to grow up quickly and the horrors they see and experience are heartbreaking.

Lina is a talented artist who is able to communicate with others through her drawings. She is also strong willed, brave and self sacrificing. Elena is a wonderful example of what it means to be like Christ in the way she treats each person she meets with compassion, respect, and love - including the enemy. She often gives up her own meager ration of food to others even if it means starving herself.

Jonas is just a boy but he too is strong and courageous and does what he needs to do to help his family and others survive for as long as they can. Andrius, a 17 year old boy is one of the many people that Lina and her family meet on the train and he is also searching for his father. He befriends Lina and Jonas, taking on a big brother role with Jonas. He is selfless and willing to put his life at risk repeatedly for those around him, especially Lina.

The refugees do what they can to help one another and even celebrate Christmas together. They also pray and read Scripture, Psalm 23 at a funeral that they hold for one of their dead.

The Soviets went to great lengths to hide these refugees during the war and to erase what happened afterward. The book jacket says that "The nations of Lithuania, Letvia and Estonia disappeared from maps in 1941 and did not reappear until 1990." There's something very wrong with that...this story needs to be told and Sepetys even encourages readers to do further research, to continue to tell this story so more
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