“Between Shades of Gray” Book Review

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“Between Shades of Gray” Book Review

Sofia Gongora, Staff Writer

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   If you’re looking for an interesting historical fiction book to read, this is one of the best options in the Pearl High School library. Between Shades of Grey is a New York Times best seller. It follows the Stalinist repressions of the mid-20th century and follows the life of Lina Vilkas and her family. Lina is a 15-year old girl just like any other. She loves to draw, she has a crush, and she loves her family.

           Lina’s father, Kostas Vilkas, is a professor at the local university. He is accused of the anti-Soviet activity of helping relatives get back to Germany. Because of this, the whole family was branded as criminals. Elena is Lina’s mom. She is a homemaker so she relies on Kostas to keep the family together. In 1941, the family was deported and pulled away from their beautiful middle-class home in Lithuania. Shortly after, Lina’s father was killed.

            Lina and her brother, Jonas, try very hard to cope with the situation and their father’s death. For Lina, drawing is a way to process the world, and is her best mode of expression. Though young, Lina already knows her passion in life is for drawing, and she is preparing to enter drawing school when she is ripped from the only life she’s ever known. Despite the hardships she endures during the deportation, Lina never ceases to stop her drawing. She continues to document the horrors of the Baltic genocide through her drawings at the risk of certain death, and hopes to pass along the drawings to her father so that he may find where she has been relocated.

             The brave 15-year old she is, Lina is devoted to saving her family members, and risks her life multiple times throughout the novel in attempts to save her mother and brother. Throughout the novel, you learn about many characters such as: Joana (cousin and best friend), Andrius (her crush), Mrs. Arvydas (Andrius’s mom), Mr. Stalas (“the bald man from the train”), Miss Grybas (her mothers friend), Ona (a woman that gets killed for going crazy), Komorov (a helpful police man), Janina, and Dr. Samodurov (a doctor that helps Jonas and many others get better). The entire novel is written from Lina’s first-person point of view, and the epilogue reveals that the work has been created from her preserved drawings and writings discovered decades later.