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BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Sepetys creates a memorable journey that unveils an often-overlooked portion of history, based on the true story of the thousands of Baltic refugees who suffered at the hands of Stalin’s ethnic cleansing. While it does not have the power of The Diary of Anne Frank, it is still a moving and well-written novel. Definitely not your typical light YA.
In 1941, when Lina is 15, her family is deported by the Soviet police. Separated from her father, she, her mother and her younger brother are forced onto a train car with other Lithuanians. As war rages around Europe, these quiet refugees wage their own battle to survive.
Sent to a work camp in Siberia, they are forced to work long days for only scraps of food. As the refugees bond, Lina is determined to document their suffering. An aspiring artist, she begins to draw the pain and inhumanity she sees all around her, and hopes to send messages to her father in another camp. Despite all of their torments, love prevails in the oddest of places, and someday in the future we will find the record of that love and hope that it kept some of these courageous people alive. (PHILOMEL, Mar., 352 pp., $17.99, ISBN: 9780399254123, HC, 14 & Up)
Reviewed By: Raven Haller
Published: March 2011