'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 28 March 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray

Lithuania, 1941.

This was Stalin’s world, where anyone considered anti-Soviet was either murdered, imprisoned or enslaved in Siberia. It was a war that went on and on, ending only relatively recently. The horror of his reign resulted in the deaths of around twenty million people.

In Between Shades of Gray, Lina and her brother Jonas are at home, when the Soviet Secret Police descend upon their sanctity and arrest them and their parents.

And so begins their journey – a long, dangerous ride in the worst possible conditions, fearing for their lives at every moment. This, followed by slavery and imprisonment, a further journey, more fear.

In between all of this, there are beautiful glimpses of life before all of this, the innocence and frivolity of simpler times a stark contrast to Lina’s new life.

This is a stunning story that will have readers holding their breath from the first page to the last. Every word demands to be absorbed, every fact so important, and each small detail symbolic.

The characters seem to take our hearts and borrow them for strength as they battle through the most terrible conditions, needing every last ounce of human strength and love to pull them through.

The reality of it all is devastating and horrific, the honesty heartbreaking, yet it is such an important time to learn about.

And finally, these beautiful words from author Ruta Sepetys: “In 1991, after fifty years of brutal occupation, the three Baltic countries regained their independence, peacefully and with dignity. They chose hope over hate and showed the world that even through the darkest night, there is light. These three tiny nations have taught us that love is the most powerful army.”

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin, $19.95
Publication Date: 28 March 2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780143205418
For ages: 15+
Type: Young Adult