Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a historical fiction novel about how the Lithuanians were affected by World War II, specifically by Stalin and Hitler.
This is technically a young adult novel, but definitely has value for adults. I had no previous background about the Lithuanian situation during WWII, and this book has inspired me to do a little more research on the subject.
Lina, her mother, and her younger brother Jonas are taken away from their home in Lithuania and placed onto cattle cars. They are separated from their father, who was also taken but placed with other men.
Lina and family are taken to the frozen land of Siberia where they are made to work in camps, complete hard labor, and struggle to survive. Throughout the story, you learn about Lina’s past through flashbacks that illuminate the relationship she has with her father and her cousin Joana.
This book has received mixed reviews, both by bloggers and on the review websites. I can see the value in the the reviews, but I disagree with the negative ones. I enjoyed the unique take on the stories normally told about WWII.
Lina shows great strength for a teenager, working hard while retaining a quest to survive, but she still shows vulnerability while experiencing a growing crush on a boy, even during this harsh time.
If you are interested in World War II and historical fiction, I think you would enjoy this story of Lina, told from a more unique perspective as a Lithuanian teenager during this troublesome time.
What do you think of historical fiction? Do you think it’s a valuable way to learn about history?