- Published: New York : Philomel Books, 2011.
- Year Published: 2011
- Description: 344 p. : maps ; 22 cm.
- Language: English
- Format: Book
- Lexile: 490
- Labor camps -- Fiction.
- Survival -- Fiction.
- Lithuania -- Fiction. -- History -- Soviet occupation, 1940-1941
- Siberia (Russia) -- Fiction. -- History -- 20th century
- Soviet Union -- Fiction. -- History -- 1925-1953
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Between shades of gray
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Where To Find It
Call number: Teen Fiction
Available Copies: Pittsfield Teen
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Based on the author's family, includes a historical note.
Reviews & Summaries
Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee and did some very extensive research before writing this story. It is a novel, and thus fiction, but it is based on real accounts and real experiences, some of which are even a part of her family's story. She is very blunt and even graphic at times in her description of the characters, the torture, and the deaths that occur. She didn't sugar coat it, even with her audience being YA readers, and I think that takes both guts and skill. This is an absolutely fantastic book, and it would be a great counterpart to a history or literature class (*hint hint* all of you teachers out there!). There is so much to be learned about these people that we seem to have forgotten or written off as unimportant. Sepetys weaves her story full of sections that will make you cry and laugh and swoon and curse. It is beautifully written and comes very highly recommended (by me!).
Overall, 5 out of 5 hearts.
"It is my greatest hope that the pages in this jar stir your deepest well of human compassion. I hope they prompt you to do something, to tell someone. Only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself." (P 338)
This is a story about hardship, sacrifice, love, survival.
About 25 years ago, I had a friend from Estonia. She was much older than I - she'd been born in a camp at the end of WW2. If I recall correctly, it was a displaced persons camp (not a forced labor camp), and they emigrated to the US after the war. But perhaps their experience during the war was as miserable as what we read about in this book. Malle did not tell me much about it; perhaps she didn't even know. I figured it was awful (only knowing of German concentration camps). I don't like to pry, so I don't ask questions. I didn't know to ask. But after reading this, all I can think of is Malle's family. And her husband's. Wow. What did they go through? I'm so sorry that I didn't know to ask, to honor their sacrifice. The world turned its back, and we're doing it again for other parts of the world. We always do. We are pathetic.
I can't imagine how people like Ivanov believe what they are spouting: "you are pigs, no wonder you are dying." But yet don't our soldiers (all soldiers) do the same? At least Kretzsky recognized their humanity and had the guts to hate himself for what he was doing.
Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Reads 2014
It tells a well-researched fictional story of a 15 year old Lithuanian girl who, with her family, was taken by the Soviets and forced into work camps in Siberia. Her art and her mother's belief in people's innate goodness are her lifelines.
This story is truthful and heartbreaking. It has won a huge list of awards, and I can see why. Every time I put it down, I was looking for another opportunity to pick it back up. Absolutely, whole-heartedly recommended.
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