Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a beautifully written book. I would not recommend it for people who can not take the sufferings of innocent people in great detail. If you can, you must read this book, immediately.
(NOT MY IMAGE)
The book describes Lina’s journey after she, her brother, and her mom were taken from their home by the NKFD. They ride in Pig carts for months, arrive at a labor village, and then ride another train and a small boat to another destination that puts them at work in the harsh cold. The first thing I noticed and liked was the books ability to make me feel cold, warm, cold, and so on. It would explain something on the journey, then it would explain a flashback to Lina’s wonderful life before her family was taken. It’s truly amazing and it makes me feel more connected to Lina and her life in a way.
I will admit that the book was pretty short. It was not able to make me cry because of the ending. I felt that the ending was rushed and came much to soon. It felt more like the ending of a chapter then the ending of a book.
The book was exceptional, nonetheless. I will not go into too much detail because the element of surprise plays a big role, at least, for me it did. Instead, I will discuss the discussion questions that the book comes with on the last few pages.
- Lina’s mother remains calm throughout the roundup of her family; how does her family benefit from this? It’s 100% true that Lina’s mother was calm, very calm. I think that if Lina’s mother would of been less calm, then her children would’ve freaked out too. It benefitted the family so that they could try and stay calm too. Freaking out would be one of the worst things they could possibly do. If it annoyed one of the NKFD too much, they could shoot them.
- Being held prisoner on the train brings out the best in worst in the inhabitants. Discuss the ways individuals extend their assistance and support. The amount of generosity on the train made me happy. Lina’s mom and a few others were tending to a woman and her baby, as well as a grumpy old man. Jonas (Lina’s brother) gave his school ruler to the old man for a cast and many used their coats to comfort the sick and ones in pain. Sadly, there were ones who were selfish. A woman was guarding a certain corner on the train that had a hole in it, so only she could breath the fresh air. Even though that woman was selfish, Lina’s mom still treated her with generosity.
- What kind of man do you think Lina’s father is? In the book, we weren’t able to see a lot of Lina’s father because he was away in a prison. He was in prison because he had saved a family from imprisonment, basically sacrificing his life for theirs. He also sacrificed his family’s life because that act is what caused Lina, Jonas, and their mother to be taken away in the first place. I admire their father for his bravery, but I look down on him for his stupidity.
(MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
That small act ended up killing his wife and getting his son to the point of almost death.
Thanks for taking the time to read this review! I hope you take the time to read this amazing book, as sad and horrible as the events were, the way it’s written amazes me.