Between Shades of Gray came to me in a box from LitKit, which, SO SADLY, is now defunct. When I first saw the book I thought, “Uhh…what are they doing to me?” which is a terrible thing because this book was published before that other book that has “shades” and “gray” in the title. I haven’t read the other one but I feel confident this one was better because it was better than most anything else I’ve read this year.
It’s technically a YA novel, though I’m not exactly sure what the criteria is for that. Either way, it’s a really depressing and yet somehow heartwarming story about a group of Lithuanians who were sent to a work camp in the Arctic Circle during World War I. So many people die and everyone is subject to the most horrible of all horrors. God damn this book shook me. But — inside all that there’s a coming-of-age story, there’s a young romance, there’s some glimmers of hope in a truly hopeless situation. And there’s burning bodies alive and digging their own graves and other awful, terrible things that make me feel weird about even saying that parts of this book were enjoyable.
But they were. The writing was tight and lovely and haunting. I loved everything about this book. It’s certainly, easily the best book I’ve read in 2016.