If you like historical fiction and want to learn more about some of the less widely known events in World War II, you might like Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray.
It is 1941. Lina is 15 and lives a pretty comfortable life in Lithuania, though there are some tensions as the Soviet Union has established control over the country during World War II. One evening the secret police come into her family’s home and force Lina, her younger brother, and their mother to the train station for deportation to Siberia. The rest of the book details their long and difficult journey, by train and trucks through various prison camps and efforts to sell them into slavery, and how Lina and her family desperately try to survive along with other deportees from their city. Throughout the story, Lina learns more about why her family was targeted for deportation. Lina is a talented artist and her art serves as a way to commemorate their experiences and, she hopes, a way to guide her father, who has been separately taken by the Soviet secret police, back to the family. I found it a gripping story that I had a hard time putting down until I reached the end. The author is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee so this story is quite personal for her and I think that comes through in her writing.
What are your favorite historical fiction books?