Yes. You read that correctly. I liked Out of the Easy so much I rushed out to get Between Shades of Gray, and let me tell you, it was even better. It's probably the best book I've read so far this year, but I digress. Here's my review of this incredible book by one of my new favorite authors!
Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
AR Levels: Book Level: 3.6; Interest Level: 6th-12th; Points: 9.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7824322-between-shades-of-gray
In a nutshell: Fifteen-year-old Lina is on her way to a promising career as a talented artist when Stalin's soldiers arrest her and her family and force them to leave their Lithuanian home in the middle of the night in 1941. They journey thousands of miles packed into filthy rail cars to arrive at a Siberian work camp, where they are worked to the bone and treated like animals. Can Lina and her family find hope in the grays of the arctic wilderness?
I'd recommend it for grades: 8 and up (heavy subject matter)
I'd recommend it to: historical fiction fans, WWII buffs, readers who liked Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank or Night by Elie Weisel, and anyone who enjoys a powerful yet heartbreaking story of survival
What I liked most about this book: It's
chillingly enlightening and beautifully written even if the subject
matter makes you sick. I was completely unaware of these displaced and
abused people who suffered so much at exactly the same time as the
Holocaust but in the wastelands of Siberia. It hurts to read this book,
but I couldn't put it down. Also, the mother in this book is one of the strongest and bravest women I've encountered in a book in a while. I'm amazed at how completely opposite she is from Josie's despicable and uncaring mother in Out of the Easy. It's an interesting contrast.
Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): I teared up a few times while reading this book, but there's a scene that's set in the rail car that really moved me. In the midst of chaos and fear and filth, Mrs. Rimas, the Lithuanian librarian, begins to tell stories to the children waiting in uncertainty to put them at ease. I couldn't help but wonder if I were in that dire situation if I'd be able to selflessly put aside my own fear in order to do what I've devoted my own life to - improving the lives of children. This sweet, brave librarian swallowed her sheer terror to try to calm those frightened children. I hope I never have to be put in that situation, but if I were, I hope I'd be that brave too. This book is full of courageous moments like that one. It's inspiring.
Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): I'd give this one 6 stars if I could, but I'll give it 5 and play fair.