Between Shades of Gray
What a powerful message this book has.
Over the years, almost all of the historical fiction that I've read has been based on WWII, but they usually focus on France or Germany. This book was about a family that was forced to leave their home in Lithuania and found themselves in camps around Russia.
Our main character, Lina, dreams of being an artist. She lives with her little brother, Jonas, and her mother and father in Lithuania. Soldiers unexpectedly show up to their house and force them to get on a train meant for cattle and their lives are never the same.
Everything about this book speaks to human compassion and makes you think about what a human's life is worth. As Lina says, "Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch". There are some people who are willing to help along the way, and others that mock them or call them pigs.
The only reason this didn't get five stars from me was because of the ending. I felt like there was such a powerful build of a story, and the ending was too abrupt and left us with only an epilogue from years later that had no explanations. It would be one thing to end it with Lina dying or being saved, but we don't really know what happened. Either way, it was worth the read.