Name: Between Shades Of Gray
Author(s): Ruta Sepetys
What’s It’s About: In the middle of the night Lina, her brother, and her mother are taken away by the NKVD (Soviet secret police) for no apparent reason. Along with many others they are shuttled to Siberia where they are accused of being criminals with 25 year sentences and forced to work on a beet farm with inhumane conditions. Lina starts to put clues of where they are in her drawings and passes them on in hopes that at least one will reach her father. She also writes (and hides) detailed accounts of the horrors she and those around her face. But as conditions get worse and worse, and everybody close to her starts to die (or gets very, very close), how will she and her family survive?
*Content Warning: mentions of prostitution, suggestive content*
My Review: I actually finished this book a few days ago, but I put off this review because I wasn’t sure what to say. I’m still not. This story may be fictional, but it rings with truth, and the fact that people had to go through things like what happens in this book is heartbreaking. WHY? How could people do this to others? There’s an old Latin proverb that goes “Man is a wolf to man.” I look at what some people have done to each other and I go, “Forget wolf, HURRICANE is more like it.” It just makes me so sad. That aside, I think there’s a moral in this story, faint but always there. It’s never preached on, but I picked it up all the same. ALWAYS HAVE HOPE. I’m pretty sure that’s how Lina survived. She had hope, and that hope turned into determination. The book actually has an open ending, but I didn’t mind. Why? Because I just knew that somehow, someway, in that fictional world Lina was going to survive. And it’s the way that this book makes me think and hope that really makes me like it. So maybe I did have something to say after all.
Re-Readability: High. I don’t even feel the need to explain.
“You traitor! You pathetic old man!” I said. “Pathetic, and yet I survive. Surely, my survival is my punishment. That has to be it. This woman closes her eyes and she is gone. I’ve wished for death since the first day, and yet I survive. Can it really be so hard to die?”
‘The repeater spoke of nothing but America. He tried to draw maps of the United States, discussing details he had heard from friends or relatives. He needed to believe it was possible.”
“A man in group twenty-six got caught stealing wood. They sentenced him to an additional five years. Five years for one log. It could have been fifty. Our sentences were dictated by our survival.”
“You think of nothing but yourself. If you want to kill yourself, what’s keeping you?” I said. Silence sat between our stares. “Fear,” he said.”
“Mrs. Rimas brought her hand to her mouth. “She really intended to return home.” I looked at Papa’s shirt. My mother was freezing. She could worn these clothes. She kept them, to return to Lithuania in a clean set of clothes.”