Between Shades of Gray

By: Ruta Sepetys


The main character of this book was Lina Vilkas. She was only 15 years old when the NKVD, led by Stalin, marched into her house on June 14, 1941 and took Lina, her mother and her brother Jonas. Lina and her family were sent to different camps in Siberia, while her father was sent to a prison camp. They meet many people along the way. Some new born, some old, some strong and some weak. Lina and her family will try to fight to stay alive. But, will they survive? Will they escape? And will they ever be able to see the rest of their family and friends again?


The theme of this book is "never give up." Because Lina and her family never give up and they are always positive. Even though they have to work every day and get barely anything to eat, they will keep fighting to stay alive. Lina also never gives up on the thought of seeing her father if they survive. Only incredible strength, love, and hope can pull Lina and her family through each day.

Historical Event: Camps in the Arctic

The historical event that I chose to research about was the camps in the arctic. From 1941-1944, German troops were responsible for a 1,000 kilometer of the arctic. The Germans brought around 9,000 officers and around 20,000 prisoners to the arctic as a work force. Many of the prisoners were sent to different camps before brought to this one. The prisoners usually slept in turf huts, cardboard and plywood tents, and wooded barracks. But, for the prisoners to be able to have some shelter, they had to build them themselves. The prisoners rarely got anything to eat in the camp. Prisoners were also forced to do work for the officers, such as building and other things.

How the Historical Event Portrayed in the Book

The author incorporated this historical event in the story really well because some of this book took place in the arctic camps. In the book, Lina and the rest of the prisoners were to make buildings out of bricks for the NKVD officers. Then if they wanted to have shelter them selves, the women had to build a shack out of stuff that washes up on to the shore. To stay warm, they had to steal wood from the NKVD's wood shack to make a fire with. While the women built the shack, the men went fishing. Even if they caught fish, they didn't get to keep it. They had to give it to the NKVD officers. All they got to eat was bread rations. But, in order for them to get their bread rations, they had to finish their jobs. In the book it also said that it was a struggle to try to fight every day in the cold with barely any shelter, food, and clothes.

MLA Citation

Seitsonen , Oula . "Join & Share your research with the world." Forgotten in the Wilderness: WWII German PoW Camps in Finnish Lapland. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.