Fifteen year old Lina's life is about to change from loving family, respected parents, dreams of a future to violence, degradation, humiliation and survival. It's June 14, 1941 in Lithuania and the Soviets are purging this newly invaded country of all rebels. Lina's father has already been arrested and now in the night fists pound on the door and quiet, gentle Mother answers the NKVD, Soviet secret police, and life descends into hell. Knowing only a world of academia, character, and dreams of art school, Lina and her younger brother, are not prepared to see their lovely mother smashing all her china and crystal to deny them to the savage intruders. They are not prepared to see their mother's face smashed by the butt of a rifle. This is only the beginning as they are herded onto a train like cattle and stripped of all dignity and power over their own lives and futures. This story is told in vivid detail drawing you into the railroad car where you meet the other prisoners and get to know their characters and their stories. What brought them here? Where are they going? Who will survive? What will they be willing to give up to stay alive? How will they treat each other? The best and worst of humanity walk side by side as the group bands together and makes its way across thousands of miles to Siberia. Millions of people have read the Diary of Anne Frank but how many people are aware of the inhuman abuse perpetrated by the Soviets against so many thousands of people. Lina has an artistic gift which shines through and cannot be stolen or destroyed and she uses it as a tool for hope and survival. This is a gritty, heartwrenching story which mirrors the unspeakable suffering of so many. Their courage finally has a voice. Ages 13 and up 338 pages
Between Shades of Gray
Philomel March 2011
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This is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. Perfect for middle school.