Reviewed by: Claire A
Between Shades of Sorrow, despair, pain, suffering, hope. In Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, Lina, a girl who sees the beauty in everything, and her family are taken and thrown into a crowed train car by the NKVD (a.k.a. Stalin’s Nazis). Lina, her mother, and brother now have a new title: “Thieves and Prostitutes.” Lina is put into a situation where she is forced to be the leader, along with her mother, her brother, and her friend, Andrius. The suffering is almost unbearable, with all the hard work and sickness. Along with hurt of losing friends they barely knew. The deportation seems hard for the new prisoners, but they soon realize that that was nothing compared to the hardships to come in the middle of Siberia. Although Lina, her mom, and her brother are taken to Siberia, her dad, who was not with them when they were arrested, is in another prison camp far away from Lina. Lina’s goal while she is in Stalin’s custody is to communicate with her lost daddy by sending drawings to him. She has a passion for drawing and was going to go to art school if it hadn’t been for her arrest. Her plan is to insert secret messages that only her father would understand into her drawings. She would then give them to someone trustworthy to deliver to her father. Lina learns that the most important things about surviving in a hard time is hope, love, and keeping her family together.
This story is incredible. I could read it a million times and it would still make the same huge impact that it did the first time I read it. After I read this, I had a new found respect for anyone who was imprisoned in WWII. I loved how Ruta Sepetys made it real, as if I were right there next to Lina throughout the entire war by using descriptive words and making everything tie together perfectly. I loved the scene where Andrius and Lina first meet. It seemed so life-like. I absolutely love it when books are realistic. What is really unique about this book is that it describes the pain that Stalin put people through instead of the pain that Hitler put people through, as most WWII books do. I had always wondered about this book, and I think everyone should read it.
I recommend this book to girls only, since some scenes are clearly meant for girl’s eyes only. I suggest Between Shades of Gray to any girl in sixth grade or older as there are some very mature parts and some foul language. Remember this is a realistic fiction book based on a Lithuanian’s perspective on Stalin and the cruelties of World War II. Over all, I think you should read this book if mysterious, amazing, sad, and realistic fiction stories appeal to you.