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Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books, 2011
Audience: Older Teens

From Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

If my review could be one word, it would be "powerful." That sums this complicated book up. It was beautiful and sad and I'm so glad Ruta Sepetys wrote it. We need to remember the past, no matter how difficult and horrifying it was, in order to avoid repeating it. Lina and everyone in this book had such strength. I admire them, and I can't imagine going through something like that myself. Because of this story, I counted my blessings one more time.

It was a sad way to end my challenge, but a truly great book. I'm looking forward to her next novel.