Friday, May 26, 2017

Between Shades of Gray

You'd think someone with a bachelor's degree in history would read more historical fiction. I'm not really sure why I don't read more of it. Whenever I do, I quite enjoy it. But more often than not, my hand strays to the sci-fi/fantasy shelves. However, when I do read historical fiction, it is usually set in World War II. So it should be of no surprise that I've had my eye on Between Shades of Gray for a long time. I read Sepetys's books in reverse order, starting with Salt to the Sea. Luckily, this didn't make much of a difference since they are standalones!

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Retrieved from Goodreads
Lina was a normal girl with a normal family until the NKVD arrived in the night. Now she's a prisoner in Stalin's work camps in Siberia, struggling each day just to survive. Through years of hardship, Lina protects her family and tries to live to the next day through her art and desire to see her father again.

Sepetys's books are well researched and focus on details of World War II that are often overlooked. While most of the world knows about the Holocaust, fewer people know of the atrocities Stalin perpetrated on the people of the USSR. In that respect, I commend Sepetys. Lina's story is one of sorrow and never ending drudgery laced with terror. Her family slowly leaks away from her, as does her innocence. She is accused of being a pig for living in conditions she is forced into. And through it all, she tries to document the atrocities so that one day they will be uncovered. I felt genuine horror when Lina and her mother were forced to stand in a hole they dug while an NKVD officer shot at the walls around them until they were nearly drowning in dirt. But at the same time, I never truly felt like I was in Lina's mind. It felt slightly distant. I also noted how similar the ending was to the one in Salt to the Sea. It didn't feel like a true resolution. But then, how can there be a resolution for something so terrible? I do enjoy Sepetys's books, but they don't hit me in the gut as much as they probably should.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars (More like 3.5)
Up Next: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

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