"Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch."
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they 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, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?
Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.
~Print copy, 338 pages
Published: 2011 by Philomel Books
[First off, happy 1st day of April! My birthday's this month. And it's spring break. Meep!]
This novel... is most certainly riveting.
It starts off with Lina, along with her mother and brother, getting kidnapped by the Soviet police. It's the beginning of World War 2, and the Soviets have captured Lithuania, where Lina and her family live. For that, and because her father helps some people escape to Germany, Lina and her family is deported.
Lina can be a bit of a selfish girl, a bit young and immature. I sympathized with her, of course, overlooked her flaws over the course of the novel, but I really liked her mother and some of the other, secondary characters more. Those were the adults, who took care of everyone; they felt more rounded out, more alive than Lina, who only in flashbacks could see why they were captured.
But the premise... the setting... the details... All of it's sort of breathtaking. In a breaking-your-heart sort of way. I pictured it all so clearly, felt the hunger and despair and almost smell the stench and feel the lice. The details are unapologetically honest.
The middle-to-end sort of upset me. I was expecting it, but hoping for something different. I don't know, I guess I still wanted a happy ending. But it couldn't really have a happy ending, and it didn't have one. It's kind of emotional.
I haven't really picked up any new book since I finished this one on Friday. That's how much this book impacted me. It's a really honest novel, and most certainly a worthy read; I'm not sure how I feel about it, though. I think it's more a 4 star novel than a 5, simply because it impacted me too hard. I recommend this to anyone looking for a serious read.