Title : Between Shades of Gray
Writer : Ruta Sepetys
Number of Page : 346
Publisher : Penguin USA
My rating : 5/5
Set in 1941...
It was at the time of World War II when Lina Vilkas, her brother (Jonas), and her mother (Elena) were taken by NKVD officers. NKVD is the public or secret police of Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin era. Without knowing anything, the three of them obeyed because they were all scared.
The story was told in first POV from Lina. She wondered whether they were arrested. She were also panicked since her Papa was not with them.
Treated like prisoners, they were trapped in a truck for days with other people. There were teacher, collector, librarian, and many more. They didn't get food or drink regularly.
At last they arrived at train station. They were loaded into the train wagon like cattles. Later they would all shared places of sleep, decide where to pee, and more. The journey of hundreds days began, from Kaunas (Lithuania) to Trofimovsk (North Pole).
This was the story of struggle in time of difficulties. We could see how far the strength of a person could last. They might not like each other, but they were forced to work together so that they could survive a little longer. Some were stubborn, some were stupid, some were selfish... The book told a journey of meeting variously different people.
Lina learnt a lot. She saw that the world around her was not fair, that she could not do anything about that. She saw her mother helping other people without hoping anything in return, treating all people in the same manner. She saw her younger brother changing from a small boy to a dependable teenager who was never hesitated to protect his family. Even bad people also had good sides. Don't judge people from appearances. There were always reasons behind everything.
And Lina found herself falling in love with the guy named Andrius Arvydas. She hardly knew him. Sometimes she misunderstood him just because she was afraid of loving others. But Andrius was a good person, less talk and more action.
Years of working and suffering. Through winter, summer, and sickness...
I like the story very much. Full of humanity and morals. I also like the part where Lina told the memories of her family and friends before the deportation, her dreams of becoming a painter like Edward Munch... It was so real and ordinary like our own lives. But, her life was shattered... imprisoned without commiting any crimes...
This book left me with sadness, warmth, and hollow. I feel pity for Lina and others, and yet I liked seeing them care for each other. I know that these things really happened in the past although this book is just a fiction based on memories from survivors. I can't imagine what kind of lives that those real survivors had. So sad.
Anyway, this is a good book... Indeed. Ruta Sepetys's writing is very simple and yet full of meaning. Love it!