Ruta Sepetys' BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY (Philomel 2011) chronicles the perilous journey of Lina and her mother and younger brother as they are forced from their home in Lithuania and forced into hard labor for "crimes" against the Stalin government in the Arctic Circle. It begins one night with angry soldiers giving Lina's family 20 minutes to pack their belongings and get aboard a railroad car. Father is not home; he has already been arrested, most likely. As the train car is filled and the journey begins, Lina witnesses much for her young years including death, starvation, murder, and forced labor. <224>
Stalin deported millions from their homes in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and even Finland. Millions died before returning home. Those who survived and returned found they had no home and were often treated as criminals released from prison. In heartbreaking detail Sepetys provides both the harsh reality of this genocide with a reminder of the indomitable spirit of the humans who were treated with such disregard. Tie this to NO PRETTY PICTURES: A CHILD OF WAR by Anita Lobel.