Title: Between Shades of Grey
Author: Ruta Sepetys
My Rating: 5/5
One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and younger brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.
An unimaginable harrowing journey has began. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.
This book was truly remarkable. I can't even stop myself from saying it's one of the best books I've read, or at least the best historical fiction book I've read. The story is tragic, heart wrenching and shocking. The fact that it's based on true events makes it even more powerful.
Lina, her mother and her younger brother, Jonas are taken from their home one night by the Soviet guards and taken away in cattle carts. There is not a slow description moment in this book. Within the first sentence of the first page we are thrust into this dangerous journey with Lina and her family.
I read this book of over 300 pages in two days, which is pretty fast for me. It's never slow-paced and a proper page turner, and I spent the entire time desperate to know what will happen to Lina, her family and the other people she's suffered with at the hands of the Soviet guards. What they all went through is terrible and shocking, and it's almost impossible to imagine yourself in those situations. Or imagining people doing that to one another. I just hope that this book will open peoples eyes to what happened to these people.
The character's themselves are fictional, even though they are based on real events. The story was told through Lina's point of view, and she was an excellent character. I loved that she conveyed a lot of her stories and emotions through her drawing. When she would see something terrible happening, she would think of how she would draw it and document it in the hopes that some day, someone might know what happened to her and the people she was with.
For me, the stand-out character is by far Jonas, her 10-year-old brother. At the start of the book, it's obvious that he's just a young child by the way he talks and acts. But as the book goes along, and while he and his family witness such horrible things, he's forced to grow-up, and he grows up fast. At the beginning of the book he is the young child who's protected by his mother and Lina. But by the end, he is almost the man who has to look after Lina and his mother, and sometimes is the voice of logic and rationality towards them. I sometimes forgot that he was only 10-11 years old.
I also grew to love the people that are with Lina and her family. The one's who're also being deported by the Soviet guards. Some of them, we rarely even hear the names of. They're referred to as; The bald man, the man who wound his watch, the grouchy women. And yet, I really felt for them when anything happened to them. I especially loved Andrius. I hoped that they would all get out alright, as much as I hoped that for Lina and her family.
Overall, this was one of the most brilliant, powerful and shocking books I've ever read. It's a must-read for any historical fiction fans. And I really hope that more people read this so that they know the terrible things that these people went through, told brilliant through this book.