Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch . . .
One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.
An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.
Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . . Will hope keep Lina alive?
Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors. (Goodreads)
In 1941 the Soviets are gathering people they think as anti-Soviets, mainly from university, army, teachers. When NKVD comes knocking on their door, 15 year old Lina’ life turns for the worse. She along with her mother and 11 year old brother gets deported from Lithuania to freezing Siberia with crowded train car that’s labelled as thieves and prostitutes. As in worthless people.
This was such a great and emotional book. There isn’t many books about Stalin’s regime and even fewer about the Baltic countries and it was great reading about those for change.
They were given very little food and water which resulted in people dying of hunger and disease. Under those circumstances people react differently. Some fights back and won’t give up, some are just desperate and some has given up. Lina’s mother is good example of someone who has courage and stays strong through it all. Even with small rations of wood, she always has food to give to those who needs it. She’s the one who keeps it all together.
The NKVD officers treated them worse than human beings. They were there to do their job and often saw it as a game. But it also made me thinking if there were some who had sympathies for the victims and who for their own good did nothing. I mean they would have gotten themselves killed otherwise most likely.
I would have liked to hear what happened to the other half after the camps were separated. And why they were separated in the first place. I also wondered what happened to that one guard and I found having more symphaty for him than I probably should have.
I’m not usually huge fan of historical YA but don’t let it fool you. This was amazing book and I’m glad I read it!
And it always makes me excited when Finland is mentioned in a book lol :)
Published: Puffin (2011)
Source: my own