Between Shades of Gray is a World War Two story that is not often told. It is the story of the Soviet Union’s occupation of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. The Soviets captured those who they saw as anti-Soviet, mainly the educated- doctors, lawyers, teachers, military servicemen, writers, business owners, musicians, artists, and librarians. These people were rounded up and murdered, sent to prison, or sold into slavery in Siberia.
We follow the story of Lina, who is separated from her father, but is with her mother and younger brother. They spend weeks on a train with others, and they are taken to Siberia. It is here where we see the conditions that the prisoners face. Some are offered special treatment for favors – such as spying on the other prisoners. The prisoners are forced to work for a small payment, just a small amount of bread. The conditions are horrible that they are living in; people often become sick and die. The prisoners bond together, giving up their small portion of food to help another who is ill or in need.
Lina is unsure of why her family has been one of those imprisoned. At first she believes it’s because of her father’s job at the University, until she realizes that she saw one of her father’s co-workers the night that the Soviets took her family. Will she learn why her family was one of those that the Soviets had taken? Lina ends up spending twelve years in the custody of the Soviets, and even after her return, she still cannot speak freely of the horrors that she saw.
Between Shades of Gray is based on the experience of the author’s family.