Trigger Warning: This book contains horrific cruelty and sexual content.
A New York Times Bestseller “Between Shades of Gray” now renamed “Ashes in the Snow” is a novel about World War II by author Ruta Sepetys.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.” ― Ruta Sepetys, “Ashes in the Snow”
Lina Vilkas is 15 years old when she’s deported from her Lithuanian home along with her mother and younger brother, Jonas. They are placed in a cattle car with strangers and are forced to travel to an unknown destination. Lina’s father was already taken and they don’t know where he is.
Later, they are put on a train for six weeks and given very little to survive on. Lina draws ― that’s all she can do. Using her talent, she decides to document their journey through her art work. She leaves a trail of little notes in hopes that her father will find them.
Through the power of love for one another, Lina’s desperate attempt to document what’s happening and the good fortune that comes through at just the right times, the Vilkas family tries as hard as they can to fight. As sickness comes and goes, they are moved over and over again, but they persist.
Sepetys writes a story from the very depths of the war. A journey through hell and back. She writes with such knowledge and passion that the story seems too real.
When the Vilkas family reaches their destination of Siberia, will they survive the coming winter or will their story be over?
I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction.