Review by Sarah. P, 8th Grade
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published by: Scholastic Inc.
Genre: Historical Fiction
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch.” Quoted from Between Shades of Gray
Lithuania,1941: In the dark of night on June 14, when fifteen-year-old Lina was preparing to go to bed just like any normal night, there is a booming knock on the door. Lina’s normal life will soon become a distant memory as she, her mother Elena, and her brother Jonas are taken by the Soviet secret police. She is separated from her father, and everything she has ever known. They are thrown into train cars with thousands and thousands of other Lithuanians. These train cars were originally made to transport cattle. They are sent from Lithuania to Siberia on the train in the worst living conditions that she had ever thought possible. The character of Lina grows and matures throughout the story. An example is that Lina learns to express her feelings and leaves clues to her whereabouts in her drawings. She passes them along with the hope that they will get to her father. Lina fights for her life along with many, many others. Will Lina’s love, hope, and courage be enough to keep her family alive? Or will they perish like the millions and millions of other prisoners that died under Stalin’s rule?
This is absolutely my favorite book that I have ever read. That statement is saying a lot, since I have read many, many other novels. This book changed my entire view on how terrible the people were treated. I was amazed that through the entire time that they were treated like nothing, they still had hope. I still can not believe that this story is based on what truly happened. This book is beautifully written, and is very memorable. I can’t tell you enough, READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!
I would recommend this book to middle school, high school, and adult readers. This is a very sad and touching story. I think middle school students and above may enjoy this book more than younger children. The tragic circumstances that include death may be too much for younger readers. This book will change your life in ways you never expected.