Book Rating: 5/5 Stars
Cover Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 344 pages
Publisher: Philomel (March 22, 2011)
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.
It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?
This book was wonderful, heartbreaking, and beautiful. It was raw and real. It moved me in a way that few other books have. The main character isn't perfect, like you so often see in other books. The romance doesn't consume the plot, as it so often does in other books. It focuses on the story of hope, determination, bravery, and love.
This book tells a forgotten story. When I picked it up at the library, I was, at the least, very surprised to learn that there was another horror going on alongside Hitler's Holocaust. I love history, and I've always done excess research outside of history class. When I learned about this, I felt as if I had been whacked between the eyes. All the Lithuanians, Estonians, and Latvians lives who were lost is simply astounding, along with their story of pure bravery and perseverance.
This novel tells that story in a beautiful, unforgettable way. Lina is a fifteen year old Lithuanian artist taken by the NKVD because her father works at the university and shows signs of being anti-Soviet. Lina, her mother, and her brother are separated from her father, who is sent to jail. Lina and her family endure many horrors.
The characters are heartbreakingly real. One of my favorite characters is Lina's mother, Elena. She never lets the enemy see her broken. She went to all lengths to keep her children, friends, o even stragers safe. She loved her children and husband with every fiber of her body, and she saw the good in everyone, even a NKVD officer. She was a stunning yet very realistic character, as were all of the others.
The plot and story of this book is captivating. You never once get bored, and the writing style is smooth, inspiring, and beautiful. I found myself crying and laughing with Lina, and becoming distressed and worried when she was. And when I looked at what all she had to endure, I don't know how any of them survived without going completely insane. The pure power of human love in this book will bring you to tears.
I also found a video for the book that tells you the inspiring stories of some of the survivors. WATCH IT! http://betweenshadesofgray.com/
If you haven't read this book, you should. Read the first page. I double-dog dare you.