Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Staff Recommended Read of the Week

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages 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, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

Why should you read this amazing novel?

Between Shades of Gray released in 2011 but it's a timeless story that should be read by everyone.

The writing style alone allows you to experience the evil that these people went through for a number of years. It’s strange to describe Sepetys' work as beautiful with the darkness that looms on each page, but it is beautiful in a historically epic way. The battles won and lost are so life-like that you begin to hurt along with each character. I found myself wondering if I could be as strong as Lina and the others prisoners. Sepetys is a fantastic writer; her ability to blend such darkness with beauty is stunning. 

In the video below author Ruta Sepetys discusses the true history behind her novel and how she came up with the title Between Shades of Gray.