Tue July 5, 2011
"Between Shades of Gray: A Novel" (Encore presentation.)
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – (Note: This show first aired earlier this year.) On this installment of StudioTulsa, we speak with author Ruta Sepetys, whose debut novel --- it's intended for YA readers, but it's actually being read (and recommended, and appreciated) by readers of all ages --- is called "Between Shades of Gray." In this gripping and widely acclaimed new book, we meet Lina, an artistic teenaged girl living in Lithuania. The year is 1941 --- and one evening, suddenly, in the middle of the night, Soviet officers storm into Lina's home. Life will never be the same for Lina and her family, which eventually finds itself confined to a Stalinist work camp in Siberia, digging for beets and trying to stay alive. The following is culled from a starred review of "Between Shades of Gray" that ran in Booklist: "Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina's great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them. A gifted artist, she begins secretly creating pictures that can --- she hopes --- be surreptitiously sent to him in his own prison camp. Whether or not this will be possible, it is her art that will be her salvation, helping her to retain her identity, her dignity, and her increasingly tenuous hold on hope for the future. Many others are not so fortunate. Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, estimates that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their populations during the Russian genocide. Though many continue to deny this happened, Sepetys' beautifully written and deeply felt novel proves the reality is otherwise. Hers is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership."