Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Gray is the debut novel of American writer Ruta Sepetys. This novel is based upon the truth stories of survivors of The Genocide of Baltic people, during the Stalinist repressions of twentieth century.
The story is told by the first-person narrator. The major character and the narrator of this novel is a teenage girl Lina. The choice of the narrator makes the story even more vivid. Lina is only fifteen years old, but she is a strong young woman. She is a beginner artist with high expectations. Lina is a true rebel, who refuses to learn Russian language, even though she is forced to. Lina draws her experiences. The drawings include her friends and enemies, disasters and little joys. Her aim is to let the World know about the horrors of the Soviet Union. Throughout the story Lina never loses hope of coming back to Lithuania. She refuses to give up fighting for her and her family’s life.
Lina tells the story of her own family. She and her family are the victims of deportation. They experience terrible things: arrest, separation, long and horrible journey to a labor-camp in freezing Siberia. Lina narrates her story in a great detail. She talks about the first place of deportation in Altai, forced labour in the collective farm, life at the local people’s homes and the transfer to the island of Laptev sea, near the polar circle. The book provides comprehensive knowledge of exile: anti-sanitarian conditions, famine, food change and sharing, the death of children, nourishing mothers and other people, cartilage throwing from wagons at short stops, cruel soldiers’ behavior with the exiles, relationships between the exiles themselves, their relationship with the local population.
Even in the darkness of the polar night, between the gray clouds, the ray of hope is shining – to return, to meet again … Between the Gray Clouds is an enchanting story that takes your breath away and enslaves the heart, revealing the wonderful nature of the human spirit.
All in all, I would definitely recommend to read this book, especially for the young adults and teenagers. This is a truly earthshaking, powerful and important story about the tragic history of our nation, about the constant fear of the unknown, about thinking what a human life is worth? I promise you, once you take this book, you would not be able to put it aside. I am sure that the story about Lina’s family will deeply touch your heart.