My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Devoured. Binged. Slammed. Tore apart.
Whatever verbiage you want to use, that’s what I did to Between Shades of Gray.
When I found out last week that Ruta Sepetys would be coming to my local library Monday for a screening of the movie adaptation of this book, Ashes in the Snow, followed by a Q&A, I was super excited. I read her novel Salt to the Sea a while ago and fell in love with it. Ruta’s writing has a way of sucking you in and transporting you in time and in setting. When it comes to books made into films, I prefer to read the book first, so I had to quickly read this one before the author event (tomorrow!).
What I truly love about Ruta Sepetys is that she tells the forgotten stories. If you read WWII historical fiction, you’ve read stories about Nazi-occupied France or about Jewish prisoners in concentration camps or about the attack on Pearl Harbor. But Ruta finds the stories you’ve never heard. Important stories. And she brings them to life.
Between Shades of Gray is set in 1941. It tells the story of Stalin’s “death list” and the many families in the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia who were secretly deported and imprisoned by the Soviet Union in the beginning of WWII. The book follows the life of fifteen-year old Lina who is sent to a remote camp in Siberia along with her mother and brother as they fight to stay alive.
I could not believe this was a true story. And it’s one I’ve never heard. The things these people were subjected to during their internment by the Soviet Union were unbearable and unthinkable. And Ruta Sepetys did a fantastic job recreating the horrid conditions. I found myself as the reader questioning if I could have survived. This one definitely made me think about how lucky I am to have the things I do and its message makes me appreciative for my freedom.
The audiobook narration is particularly good. I felt the tension and uncertainty in the narrator’s voice and she portrayed a young girl in this time period very well. At a little over 7 hours, it is a very quick listen.
If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I think this is a must-read. I am so excited to attend the movie screening tomorrow and meet Ruta herself!