Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. Read by Emily Klein. Penguin Audio, 2011.
image from: https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/63744/between-shades-of-gray-by-ruta-sepetys/
Summary (from www.betweenshadesofgray.com)
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.
It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?
Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.
I'm also including the audiobook summary because I think it gives some more insight. (from https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/63744/between-shades-of-gray-by-ruta-sepetys/)
Emily Klein quickly convinces listeners of the harsh reality and perceptive viewpoint of Lina, an artistic 15-year-old Lithuanian. Klein’s evocative inflections mirror Lina’s family’s confusion and fear as they’re woken by Stalin’s soldiers and loaded onto cattle cars labeled “Thieves and Prostitutes,” which are headed to a labor camp in Siberia. Klein doesn’t hold back from the story’s intensity—portraying the brutality, filth, bitter cold, and sometimes brief tenderness that buoys Lina, giving her the resilience to record all she sees with her art, hoping that one day it tells the story she can’t. Relief comes as well in the well-drawn, well-acted vignettes of Lina’s formerly happy life in Lithuania. Klein also draws credible portraits of Lina’s mother, brother, and fellow prisoners. An author’s note strengthens this little-known part of history. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine [Published: APRIL 2011]
|This photo was taken at TLA 2017.|
This isn't the book you might think it is! This is historical fiction about the Soviet overtaking of Lithuania. The book is 85 chapters in length.
Sepetys does a fantastic job weaving history into an interesting narrative. She uses her own family's history as the genesis for a relatively unknown piece of WWII history. At the end of the audiobook, Sepetys gives her personal story with a small history lesson. It is moving what she did for research. Her goal is for this slice of history to not be lost.
Often in school, I was taught about the Jewish Holocaust. I've read multiple stories, seen movies and researched texts about the concentration camps and have even visited two. However, I've never studied much about what was happening in Russia during this time. Back in the spring I listened to a book (Symphony for the City of the Dead ) that gave me insight into the "real" Russia during this time period. Stalin killed so many more people than Hitler! Between Shades of Gray tells me of what happened to the Lithuanians and adds to my knowledge. I just didn't know.
I listened to this story when I could, so it took me several out of town volleyball games to hear how Lina & her family were able to endure and survive their deportation. When they were sent to the Arctic, I know the temperature in my car got colder.
As I listened, I thought about being in high school and hearing on the news about the division of the USSR and much of western Russia breaking up into many other countries (like I just refer to as the "ickstans"). I don't think I realized until listening to this story that those countries actually existed BEFORE 1991.
I love that I'm still learning. I love that fiction can bring alive the facts for me. I've noticed that I've read or listened to several historical fiction books, and most of them are set during WWII.
The title of the book doesn't surface until almost the end of the story. Sepetys explains in the author's note that "between shades of gray, sometimes there's a small crack that lets the love shine in."
Phonetically, /ze pet ees/ is how you pronounce her last name (I can't type the accent marks).
Read the book. Would you survive?