Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Put most simply, a wonderful and moving book!
This novel follows a Lithuanian family, through the eyes of 15 year old Lina, who were deported to Siberia during WWII. First, this is a part of WWII that I must honestly admit I knew nothing about. And I literally mean NOTHING. All of my education regarding the treatment of different groups has revolved around the Holocaust and the interment of Japanese-Americans, but I was completely in the dark regarding the injustices Stalin and the USSR inflicted upon so many from the Baltic states.
This novel is clearly well researched, and that research was well portrayed in a story that was heartwarming and engaging while still be honest about the horrible experience people like Lina's family would have endured. I was also very surprised to learn, after finishing it, that this was a YA novel - I honestly would not have guessed it, and was even more impressed after learning this. Despite many graphic and gruesome situations and mature writing, it was also written in such a way that I think it would definitely reach a younger audience, without making adult readers feel like they had to dumb down their thought processes to appreciate it. Truly reaching both audiences can be difficult, and it was done so well here.
A landmark of a great historical fiction novel for me is whether I want to learn more about the subject after reading it, and this one definitely made the grade there!
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