Works of fiction bring the author’s imagination to life. Readers visit new worlds, encounter different races and even species while losing themselves in the stories created from, what seems, thin air. There are a few, special books that share a glimpse of history through the eyes of a fictional character. Between Shades of Gray is one such novel.
It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s 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?
Ruta Sepetys gives a voice to the thousands of Lithuanian deportees and prisoners caught in the brutal cleansing of the Baltic Region by the tyrant, Stalin. Their voices were silenced and in many cases completely extinguished.
The more I think about this book, the more I love it. It’s not one you enjoy, but once you begin reading you can’t stop. The brutality, suffering and emotional turmoil of the characters seep into you. Knowing there is truth inspiring the fiction makes me weep. Lina may not be a real person, but her story is.
Between Shades of Gray is a must read for anyone interested in history. The characters are eerily well-developed. The story is heartbreaking and inspirational. The writing is beautiful. I don’t recommend taking it to the beach with hopes of wiling away the day with a light read. No. This book should be consumed with unwavering focus and a willingness to accept truth.