Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

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While WWII raged, Lina and her family lead normal lives in Lithuania. But Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, begins exerting his force on other nations, deporting those he feels are not Soviets. One night, the Soviet soldiers crash into Lina’s house, taking her, her mother, and her younger brother into captivity. Separated from her father, Lina and the rest of her family are shipped like cattle to a work camp. They are charged as criminals and sentenced to work to pay off their “crimes”. Around Lina, the other prisoners begin to die of fatigue, disease, starvation, and hypothermia. Somehow, though others around her beg for death, Lina and her family must hold on to hope — that someday they will be allowed to go home.

What I liked about this book is that it IS a Holocaust/WWII book, but it isn’t about the Jews in Germany. It’s told from the perspective of a teenager in Lithuania during Stalin’s aggression on neighboring countries. What’s really interesting is that Stalin (and the USSR) were allied powers — the ones fighting Hitler. So, even though the USSR was one of the “good guys”, Stalin was invading other countries and deporting the citizens to work camps. It’s pretty sad. And, it IS a sad book, so it’s maybe not the best pick if you’re looking for something warm and fuzzy. But, if you’re looking for a tear-jerker with an interesting historical perspective, this one might be it.

Rating: 3.5/5

*Golden Kite Award for Fiction, 2012

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

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