“Between the Shades of Gray” Review

Yunmi Kim, reporter

“Between Shades of Gray” is a novel written by Ruta Sepetys. The story takes place in Lithuania in 1941. Fifteen-year-old Lina Vilkas is deported from her home along with her mother and younger brother, Jonas by the Soviet police. Lina’s father is not with the rest of the family and is placed in another prison camp. Lina, her mother and Jonas are being sent to Siberia to work as slaves. Lina tries to use her art to get a message through to her father, while giving herself hope while living in slavery in Siberia.

During the reign of Stalin and Hitler,  the Soviet Union took over the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They made lists of people who were not part of the Soviet Union and decided whether they should be murdered, sent to prison or work as slaves in Siberia. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals were not excluded from the lists. The deportations stretched to Finland.

When I read this book, it made me cry, especially parts when people lose their family members or face brutal punishments by the Soviet police. For example, an additional five years of slavery is given for just for stealing a single loaf of bread or when dead people are left out in the snow without a proper burial. I admired Lina’s mother’s love toward everyone and the fact that unselfishly helped people, even when they were unpleasant to her. I also liked the prisoners’ kindness to each other. Lina’s will to live as well as the ordeals that the prisoners had to face will make you want to read this book over and over again.