My father gave me the gift of classical music as a child, and the violin parts were always my favorite. So when this book came along I gave it an enthusiastic yes. I was also interested in it because of its glimpse into the life of a child prodigy, seeing as how I am fascinated with people who give their lives to the accomplishment of something great. The book did not disappoint.
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. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
This is book one in this series, which I actually read second. Taken from their home in the night, young Lina and her family are herded by the Soviet secret police with other townspeople onto trains bound for Siberia. Their crime? They are members of the professional class, the intelligent elite, and considered enemies of the state. This, of course, is not explained to them. Thus begins a harrowing, horrifying journey, full of loss, death, but also hope and love. Sepetys' prose is vibrant and vivid. She raises complex issues seen from a child's point of view, and explains them with the realities of being both powerless but powered by the will to survive. A riveting, moving read particularly relevant in these times.
This was another riveting read, a continuation of the story above with different characters in different circumstances, although the heroines of each, Joanna and Lina, are cousins. Separated by the Soviets, they each have their own tragic stories to tell. Salt to the Sea is written in four points of view (I include the deranged and creepy Alfred) in brief alternating chapters sparingly written but filled with much detail and emotion. This was a stay-up-past-bedtime book for me. From the first pages I was engaged with the characters and their plight. There were many disturbing scenes of death, but considering the subject matter these were not unnecessary or overplayed. This book is very different from its predecessor Between Shades of Gray, which should be read first. Again, relevant reading for current times. Suitable for young adults.