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Review of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

by Cindy H | Aug 04, 2017
It is the year 1941. Lina lives with her father, mother, and younger brother in Lithuania. WWII is in full swing across Europe. The Soviets are beginning to occupy many Eastern European countries. People have been going into hiding, as rumors of families being taken away travel across the country. One fateful night, there is a pounding at the door. The Soviets are there, Lina and her family only have a few minutes to gather their belongings before they are violently carted away with a number of other Lithuanians. As they begin a terrifying journey to Siberia they try their best to stay together, but they are separated from her father, who is taken away to an unknown location. Lina is a gifted artist and uses her talents to portray the horrendous conditions and torments they face as they are starved, beaten, and forced into labor by the Soviet officers (the NKVD). Will they ever be reunited as a family and regain their freedom? Their chances seem slimmer with every passing day.

This book is an extremely emotional and heartbreaking story of a girl and her family trying to survive the repressions and forced labor, along with many other Eastern Europeans, perpetrated by Josef Stalin and his officers during World War II. The author based the story on the recollections of real survivors of these events; it is estimated that 85-100 million people died or were killed as a result of Stalin's reign. This is an important story, but contains graphic violence that may not be appropriate for younger readers. This book has won several awards. I highly recommend it for anyone who appreciates realistic, historical fiction. It is available in print, or as an ebook or audiobook on Overdrive. Click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold!
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  • Cindy H is a youth librarian and pet mother. She loves all kinds of books but the Harry Potter series will always be her favorite.
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