Thursday, 17 January 2019

Winter Reads: Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys

AMAZON; Barnes & Noble
As many of you probably already know, my least favorite historical setting to read about is WWII. I don't really have a reason why; I just don't like reading books set in this era. It just doesn't interest me, though I do like watching WWII movies and documentaries.

Over the last few days, I have been reading Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys, a WWII drama about the the genocide of Baltic people in 1941. The book was originally published as Between Shades of Grey, but was retitled to tie-in with the film adaptation that was just released to limited theatres and VOD on January 11th!

The novel centers around Lina Vilkas, a fifteen-year-old girl who, along with her mother, Elena, and her 10-year-old brother, Jonas, are removed from their home in Kaunas, Lithuania on June 14, 1941 by the NKVD (Soviet officers). Lina's family has been put on a list of citizens (teachers, scholars, lawyers, doctors, etc.) who are threat to Russia's leadership (a.k.a. - Joseph Stalin). Separated from her father (a professor), Lina, Jonas, and their mother are forced into a train car with many other innocent people who are deemed as criminals.

Given barely little food, Lina and her family survive the extremely long train ride, though many of the other people didn't survive the journey. They are taken to a work camp in Siberia, where they are all treated cruelly by the NKVD. Lina befriends Andrius Arvydas, a teenager boy who she met on the train. Their relationship grows throughout the years. And, yes, I mean years, as Lina and many others were imprisoned for twelve years.

Final Thoughts

While I do know quiet a bit about WWII, I wasn't aware that the genocide of Baltic people ever occurred before reading Ashes in the Snow. The book features many young adult fictional characters that were inspired by real life survivors. Though the book is written for a young adults, the story will easily appeal to adults.

Within reading the first pages, I was deeply connected to the main character, Lina, and her family, as they struggle to survive the NKVD work camps. The author did a wonderful job creating a gripping story based on historical events. Included in the book are 16 colorful photos from the behind-the-scenes of making the feature film. Also included in the back of the book is a three-page "Author's Note," several "Discussion Questions," and "An Interview with Ruta Sepetys."

Overall, Ashes in the Snow is a beautifully written page-turner! After reading the novel, I can see why the book has won so many literary awards! If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend seeking to find a copy of the book.

*Note - I received a review copy from the publisher.
All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book, too! I’m interested to see how the movie turns out. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!


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