by Ruta Sepetys
Length: 7 hours and 46 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 4.5 cups
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. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys takes us on one family’s perilous journey as she shares stories of human endurance and the horrors they faced. Poignant and inspiring this story will stay forever in your memory.
1941, 15-year-old Lina Vilkas’ father never arrived home and now someone is banging at their door. Lina, her 10-year-old brother Jonas and their mother Elena are ordered to pack only necessities from their home in Lithuania by Soviet officers and charged as criminals.
The Soviets packed them into cargo trains with other families. Here is where our journey with the Vilkas’ and other Lithuanians really begins. They didn’t know it but they were headed to work camps in Siberia.
I love historical fiction especially when it is steeped in history and recounts actual events. Sepetys did extensive research, and it shows in this well-written, poignant tale. At the end we learn she interviewed survivors. One survivor related much of what happened to Lina. While I am always shocked at the cruelty and horrors of this time period, I am often left in awe at not only the strength of those who faced these inhuman conditions but at the compassion they show. More than once their story moved me to tears as I listened. We also bore witness to humanities selfish side when its survival is on the line. It will give the reader pause and demand reflection as we ponder how we would react.
Sepetys didn’t shy away from the horrific events that occurred nor did she share events just to shock. Her characters were wonderfully flawed, and she showed both their strength and weaknesses. Even the enemy had shades of gray from some who helped to others who seemed to enjoy their cruelty.
Emily Klien narrated and did a wonderful job. She added another layer of depth and emotion to the tale. From her accents to tone she brought Lena’s courage and her mother’s strength to life. I felt she did the dialect justice and each key character had their own distinct voice. I will seek more audios narrated by her.
While this story only focuses on the Vilkas’ time in imprisoned and those with them on their journey, Sepetys offers an informative epilogue and a letter regarding the story. She shares what moved her to write this story, and the research that went into Ashes in the Snow, originally entitled, Between Shades of Gray.Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys takes us on one family's perilous journey A #mustlisten poignant and inspiring #iloveaudiobooks Click To Tweet
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