Saturday, May 7, 2011
Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: March 22, 2011
from the official book site:
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they 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, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?
I'm not sure I can properly put everything Between Shades of Gray made me feel into words. The emotions of Lina and her family were so palpable that I sometimes had trouble separating myself from the story. Reading the story of Lina and her family I felt their fear, anger, and confusion. Even writing about it now, it's all coming back.
Lina is a fabulously strong character. Despite everything she and her family endure, she holds onto herself and her hope and finding her father again. Strong as Lina is though, it is her mother's strength that astounds me. Through it all, Mrs. Vilkas is a pillar of strength for all of the deportees. She holds everyone together when they are ready to fall apart.
I don't think there is a single character in Between Shades of Gray that I didn't find myself caring about in some way. Everyone's fate mattered to me; they felt that real.
This is a story that needs to be read. This is a history that needs to be told. Lina and her family may be fictional, but these things did happen, and we should honor the memory of those who suffered and died by sharing their story. I'm so glad that Ruta Sepetys sat down to write Between Shades of Gray and share these events with the world. I admit being of Lithuanian ancestry makes me even more emotional about this story; it felt very personal, even knowing that my family came to America prior to Stalin and his atrocities.
And now for the fun part:
Because I believe so strongly that this story needs to be read. I'm giving away not one, but two copies. To enter to win just leave a comment on this post. You can talk about this book, you can talk about another book that really touched you, just say something. I'll announce the winners sometime Tuesday May 10 (specific time will depend on when I get up). If you're like me and you think you'll forget to check back please leave your email in your comment so I can contact you.