In a genre saturated with teen angst and supernatural romances it’s always lovely to find a book that stands on its own and can keep me up until 1 in the morning reading the story. Between Shades of Gray managed to not only keep me up into the wee hours of the morning but it also kept me up another hour curled in a ball as I absorbed the story. Narrated through the resilient voice of 15-year-old Lina, Ruta Sepetys’ novel set in 1950 tells the story of Lithuanians deported to Siberian work camps by Stalin as political prisoners. Using Lina, Sepetys shows the harsh brutality of the work camps – the constant hunger, the brutal weather, fears of safety, and threats from the guards.
What I think endeared this book to me was the characters. Through Lina we see how different people react to their circumstances. Some have already given up hope before they reach the camps, some are slowly worn down and broken over time, some try to survive by any means possible stepping over fellow prisoners in order to survive, and some quietly refuse to be broken and fight to survive. The same event can bring out the worst and the best in people. It has been a long time since a book has stuck with me as much as this one has, I would highly recommend it.