Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – REVIEW

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Philomel Books, 344 Pages
Sub-genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Bought the Audiobook
Age Group: Young Adult

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.

Between Shades of Gray is the story of Lina, a 15 year old Lithuanian girl, who is taken captive with her mother and younger brother and shipped off to a Siberian labor camp during World War II.

First things first. This is a good book. But my misfortune was that I read it AFTER I had read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and while these books both take place in World War II Europe, that’s really where their similarities end. Whether or not I felt more connected to The Book Thief because I was more aware of the tragedies in Germany rather than Lithuania, I don’t know. But this book just didn’t touch me in the same heartfelt way that The Book Thief did. And perhaps I can blame this on the rather grating voice actor chosen for Between Shades of Gray. It took all I had to get through the last 45 minutes of this audiobook. I found most of the characters to be extremely whiny; their voices like nails on a chalkboard. They didn’t seem to have the strength of Liesel or Max. Yes, I know these people were in labor camps but I didn’t feel their vigor or uncoquerable-ness (yes, I think I just made that word up).

And the ending just seemed rather un-realistic.

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy this book; it’s just that it was only an alright read for me. Do I think I would have liked it more if I read it before The Book Thief? Yeah, probably but what can you do, ya know?

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