Published March 22nd 2011
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Description via Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
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.
I really loved this book. I can't really find the words to sum it up but it was definitely very powerful. It grabbed me from the very first page and I found it almost impossible to put down. The story itself is really grim and harrowing but told in a beautiful manner. There is so much emotion packed into this novel- each feeling and image was as strong as the next. It was really easy to feel for and relate to Lina, she was incredibly likable and told her story well. I also liked that I picked up a lot of historical information, particularly from Author's Note at the back. I didn't really have much knowledge of events such as this beforehand and I like that I can walk away from the book having learned something. I would certainly recommend Shades of Gray to anybody- it's a very unique and powerful experience.