My Thoughts About Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Book Review #3)

Is it fine to call a book beautifully written when all what’s in it is suffering and death?

A World War II book that tackled the struggles of lesser known European countries, this is about Lina Vilkas, a 15 year old girl Lithuanian and the struggle she and her family had to go through during the pre-war period. The story started when Stalin of Russia ordered the deportation of thousands of Lithuanian out of their country to be sent to labor camps in Siberia because Lithuania is being annexed to Russia.


My personal copy of the book.

Deaths. Deaths. There were deaths everywhere. The travel to Siberia was marked with gruesome details about how life became so miserable to Lina’s family. With how they were able to survive starvation and the weather and the hard labor that put to test their determination to stay alive and eventually be free.

Flashbacks about the Lina’s family helped me more to understand and better visualize the scenes before the incident happened making me more attached to the characters.

Lina has an good eye for art. She was a budding artist before the war broke out. Being an outspoken child and her now on a place where every word you utter could mean your life, she used her drawings to bring out what she feels about certain situations and to cope with what’s happening around her that became too sudden. She also used it to bring hope to herself and hope to be reunited with her father, who was got separated with them prior to them being dragged out of their house. She drew almost everything, from the faces and scenes and she kept it all with the hope that someone would know their story and to avoid it from happening again.

The author….hands down. I can’t describe how masterfully this book was written. The novel was easy to read. The characters were just insanely perfect on the book. They were so diverse yet so perfect that made the story even more compelling. The story was to the point making the characterization felt just like real. The author made me feel that I am one of those who were deported and feel he pain that the deportees feel. Feel cold when the weather was below freezing, feel hungry when what they have to eat is a piece of bread, feel sick when someone is being beaten and celebrate with them on simple things that made their life a little easier.

It was like a privilege reading this book. The author went to Lithuania herself to have her research and although there were no true Lina, the premise of the story is factual. It was a privilege to listen to the voices that were unheard of before. It was a privilege to know that there were those sufferings that were not known until just recently. That there were also those little countries like Lithuania whose people were affected. At first, I thought this is just another WWII book but I was mistaken. This book has a life in it. It will make be more appreciative of things, even simple things, that you have or receive.

Going back to my question, is it fine to call a book beautifully written when all what’s in it is suffering and death? Yes, because it really is. I would be fooling myself if I said no. I believe that the intention of the book is not just for us to pity those who suffered such injustice during those period but also for the readers to mirror themselves and their lives on the book.

It is a story of strength and love.

It is a story of hope.

It is a story of mankind.

An easy 5/5 for me.

Goodreads link to Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:

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