Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

Emilie Croteau, Staff Writer

Throughout the pandemic, we have all been restricted from our normal activities and finding new interests and hobbies to keep ourselves occupied has been important. Personally, I have taken more interest in reading. Throughout quarantine, I have read various books, some good and some bad. But one of the most recent and interesting books I have read is “Between Shades of Grayby Ruta Sepetys.

This incredible story is about a 15 year-old girl named Lina Vilkas, who had been arrested by the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) and deported from her home in Lithuania. Along with her brother, Jonas, and her mother, Elena, they survive grueling days of physical labor at a labor camp in Siberia in extreme weather conditions throughout the terror of Stalin in the 1940s. 

The story begins with the Vilkas family home being broken into and arrested by the NKVD and later being packed into a cattle car with over 40 people in it. With an unknown destination, Lina’s mother tried her best to comfort her children. Through weeks of grueling heat, stench and starvation and a series of traumatizing events, Lina and her family persevered through the hardships; even when death was knocking at their door. 

Lina eventually finds love with a boy named Andrius, in which she met on their cattle car on their way to Siberia. This novel incaptures soft romance providing peace throughout the chaos. Lina and her family contained hope and courage for their future despite years of torture, imprisonment and famillies being torn apart.  

Being a person not typically interested in historical fiction novels, “Between Shades of Gray” has been an incredible read. On Amazon, this book is only $6 for a new paperback. You can also find it in the LHS library, where they have online copies as well. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in young adult suspenseful historical fiction novels.