sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #46: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
“One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother, are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle carts and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose… Will hope keep Lina alive? Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.”
First Line: “They took me in my nightgown.”
Why I read it: It is the last of the eight books on the current Carnegie shortlist.
Who I would recommend it to: If you appreciated The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and are prepared for harrowing and upsetting details of horrendous things that really happened.
Whilst I was very impressed by this, I did feel that its strength lay in the importance of the story being told rather than Sepetys’ skill as a writer. Whilst she is obviously a very capable writer, her words themselves didn’t uplift and inspire me with the way she captured her story. The story itself though is a traumatic one with moments of hope and happiness few and far between and plenty of moments of heartbreak and tragedy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this win, and apparently its been very popular at lots of school but for me, and for many of my students, Sepetys isn’t at the top of the pile. I’m not sure that I’ve convinced that Sepetys’ writing is quite worthy of pushing this above novels such as A Monster Calls or My Name is Mina which are transcendent and written so beautifully as to give you goosebumps and soaring moments, regardless of the nature of the subject being sad.