Thursday, 24 February 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Yes - I know - more historical fiction. However this one almost reads like a biography as the author has drawn on so many real life stories from extended family members and acquaintances.
This is the harrowing tale of 15 year old Lina whose family is rudely deported from Lithuania during the Stalin years of terror.
We know so much about the Holocaust, but Stalin's war on the Baltic nations are still covered in secrecy. So many died and those that survived where so badly traumatised they could never talk about their experiences.

However this is not a bleak tale. Despite despair, hunger & illness, despite transportation in cattle cars, indiscriminate killings and the desperate coldness of the Russian and Siberian winters, this is a story of love, dignity and hope.

The characters are well-drawn - believable - you care about what happens to them. The 'baddies' are not all bad and the 'goodies' are complex, flawed individuals. The only author device that annoyed me was the flashbacks in italics at the end of chapters.

This is historical fiction at its best - informative, engaging and rewarding. This is not just another WWII horror story. Between Shades of Gray reminds us that dignity in the face of adversity is a powerful thing and that art and music have the power to keep love and hope alive in all of us.

1 comment:

  1. This book was excellent and one of the best I read this year. I borrowed it from the library, but I plan to buy a copy because I think my daughter should read it, too. Glad you loved it as well. I've linked to your review on War Through the Generations.
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