It has been a long time since I was drawn into a book. I used to love to read fantasy novels and would get lost in them for hours. I just don’t have the attention span anymore for them and with so many pressing things to do, I don’t have the desire to “waste” my time getting lost in them.
I borrowed the book Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, from the library thinking my daughters might be interested. It turned out to be more a book for me than them. I read the first page and was hooked.
The book is a historical fiction about what happened to Lithuanian families during the 40’s and 50’s when the Soviets took over their country. The author interviewed many people who lived through experiences of that time and she incorporated their stories into the events of the book. Ruta Sepetys writes the book from the perspective of a 15/16 year old girl, Lina, who goes through the experience of being deported with her mother and brother, along with hundreds of others, from their home in Lithuania to Siberia.
The author takes the reader along with Lina through the uncertainty of what will happen to them, the longing for home, and the horrendous living (and in many cases dying) conditions and the treatment she and the people around her lived through. It does so without focusing on gory details, but rather with the messages of hope, dreams, truth, love, family, importance of self-expression and perseverance through difficult times. Shades of gray permeate the view of their surroundings, both physically and figuratively. Even some of the harsh experiences Lina saw as “black” she later saw had shades of goodness mixed in.
As the author requested, I am passing on the word of truth about this period of time that was kept secret for too many years. Truth not for the sake of horrifying, but instead for better appreciating the good life we live, seeing good in ‘shades of gray’ around us, recognizing the importance of hanging on to hope through difficult times, and to motivate us to do what we can to help others in need and when we see injustice done to others.
May we all soon see the day when the grandest of hopes and dreams are realized – when those longing to go home will do so and everyone will live together in peace, health and happiness!