Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys

So I'm going to just get this out there right from the start... This book is exactly why I love historical fiction so much. History is just so fascinating, especially when it is in such a well written story such as this one. I think books like this are the perfect way to introduce people to subjects, not often talked about but need to be told. Because it is in a fictional setting, it is more approachable then a historical text book and it makes you feel more. You get to see and feel what the people in these situations really went through. I think that is what makes this story just so touching. My heart broke for the characters in this book and it makes me even sadder that this is based on real events. Events that I don't think have been talked about nearly enough.

This story takes place in Lithuania and Russia during the time of WWII. It follows a teenage girl and her family as they are deported, by Stalin's secret police, from their homes in Lithuania and sent to work in Labor camps in Siberia. It is as brutal as it sounds. I know that people talk about how evil Stalin and communism was but I'm not sure we truly understand just how horrible the things he did were. When we talk about WWII we tend to focus on the Nazis and the Holocaust because that was so horrific  but after reading this book it is clear that Stalin did things just as horrific. 100,000's died during his cleansing of the Baltic Region. It was surprising to me just how similar some of the situations these people were put in were to what the Jews went through in Germany. Maybe we don't talk about this much ( I don't remember learning anything about this in school) because during the war Russia was our allies. Or maybe it's because we just didn't learn about it until recently. They were so well hidden from the rest of the world. Even after they were finally freed 12 plus years later, they were considered criminals and forbidden to speak about it or risk going back. I think people are still gathering knowledge about these crimes against the Baltic people. But what ever the reason may be for this not being talked about much, their story needs to be told and this book did a great job of telling that story.

I loved how she put little flash backs through out the book about what their life was like before they were deported.  It was such a contrast to the current situation they were in and it really helped to highlight just how drastically their lives had changed. There were so many interesting characters in this book, all with different life situations.  I think that it helped show the different types of trials that this group of people faced. I was really touched by this book. It was one of those stories that brought me to tears because I felt so deeply for the characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Lithuania and Russian history.