Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
With a pounding knock at the door Lina’s life as the teenaged daughter of a university professor changes into a nightmare. Lina, her younger brother Jonas and their mother have just moments to pack what they can before they are taken away from their home by Soviet guards. Thus begins their grueling journey from Lithuania to Siberia. Lina documents their journey through her art, drawing what she can in hopes to pass it along to her father, a prisoner in a different Soviet prison camp.
When thinking of genocide during World War II, most will think of the Nazi death camps, yet there were millions of people forcibly relocated or murdered under Stalin’s Soviet rule. The relocation was, for many, essentially a death sentence, as they endured starvation, exposure to the elements, hard labor and disease. This novel is a beautifully written tale of one family’s experience.
Lina struggles to maintain a sense of her self while enduring the horror her life has become. She mourns the loss of her life of a carefree teenager and of her younger brother’s childhood innocence. Her feelings are what make her seem more real.