“Between Shades of Gray” shows WWII through a new POV


Ruta Sepetys’ 2011 novel “Between Shades of Gray” isn’t a companion to the “50 Shades” series, but a historical fiction novel that captivates readers and holds their attention.

Set during World War II, 15-year-old Lina, her mother and her brother, Jonas, are taken by the Soviet army, travel across the Arctic Circle, work at camps during the brutal winters in Siberia, and fight for survival.

Finding comfort through her art and the hope of finding her father, Lina and her family work toward the life they once had in this amazing story.

Although it took me almost a month to finish this novel, with a semi-slow beginning but fast-paced ending, Sepetys is able to portray a part of WWII not many people read about. The teenager’s point of view shows how Lina’s courage and spitfire attitude are what put her in danger.

Lithuania is a country many students may forget was impacted during WWII, but Sepetys brings the country’s struggle to life through the stories of Lithuanians forced to work for the Soviets.

Sepetys brings us into Lina’s struggle to survive, heartache and personal conflicts as she goes from one place to another through the Arctic Circle, slowly but surely losing hope. Moving and thoughtful, Sepetys tells this story through a different point of view that we don’t necessarily read about when picking up novels set during WWII.

What makes this book so special, though? The impact. It’s always important to learn about our world’s history, even if it’s not our own countries, but WWII impacted millions of lives.

Lina’s ending is tragic but inspiring. After losing both of her parents and not knowing what was going to happen to her and her brother, she is finally freed from the Siberian camp that she was placed in, able to go home, but facing the unknown.

Sepetys’ novels others captivate readers and show them another side of WWII. Lina’s story is inspiring and, although it’s fiction, everything in the novel seems so real.


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