So for today’s post, I’ve got another review. And this time, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys.
Any book set in the period of the Second World War will without doubt generate a huge emotional response from me, if its done well. This section of history really hits me and I hate the fact that such atrocities actually happened.
In the end Between Shades of Gray marked itself as an incredible book which I truly enjoyed.
Rating: 4.75 stars
Lina is just like any other fifteen-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.
It was the plainness of the words which made this book so impactful. Ruta Septys didn’t over embellish her story with over-the-top descriptions or confusing metaphors. It was an approach that made you aware of exactly what the characters were experiencing. You greatly empathised with them, causing you to become all the more invested.
The actual storyline itself was solid. I never felt bored and I always wanted to know what would happen next. We were not given answers freely and as I was not familiar with the events of the Baltic states, it only added to the intrigue.
Between Shades of Gray is written in first person from the viewpoint of our main character Lina. I loved Lina right from the off. She was so strong and resilient. Her love for life and the fact she didn’t just accept her situation was very inspiring.
Another favourite character was Elena, Lina’s mother. She was the most kindest and caring person I’ve ever read about. Through the all the hardships that were faced, Elena became this optimistic figure in their group. She would regularly bolster their spirits and would try to make such horrible experience as painless as possible. These small acts gave me hope, things could/would be okay.
As I’ve said before, comedic relief is so important when circumstances so bleak. And there were quite a few places where I actually laugh out loud, all thanks to a particular character. It relieved the tension in the story and added some humanity.
There were many quotes I found and loved but my favourite would have to be: “evil will rule until good men or women choose to act”. A beautiful quote that just spoke to me and embodied the whole book.
So to conclude, I’m really glad I read this. I had no knowledge about this part of history and I’m happy I became somewhat informed on it. This book with its three dimensional characters and strong plot, has buried itself in my heart. It’s one I know I will re-read again and again.
As always, thanks for reading.