Playlisting Through Tough Times in Tough Terranes

Listen to my playlist on Spotify, there are a few bonus tracks!

Trust, a simple five-letter word, yet so diverse. To different people, trust could be a meager part in their lives, or something immense. Desperately trying to reach her father, but was stymied by the NKVD. Ever since being captured by Stalin and his army of puppets, Lina’s life transformed forever. From living lavishly with her parents, to living in the frigid Siberian farms, all the Lithuanian’s weren’t expecting the hard labor they were put in. This playlist was inspired by the book Between Shades of Grey, by Ruta Sepetys, and also the lyrics in the different songs.

“Broken Home”- 5 Seconds of Summer

“She would hope, she would pray, she was waiting it out”

This song really spoke out about how the Lithuanian’s were praying for an answer – a measly answer to help them out of their sticky situation. Being caught in a Siberian winter was harsh, working the field’s everyday with frostbitten hands were worse. They were all waiting out the never-ending storm, finally capitulating and working for their 300 grams of bread. Life wasn’t ever so tough, but all they could do was pray and hope for a better tomorrow.

“Ghost” – Ella Henderson

I keep, going to the river to pray, cause I need, something that can wash out the pain”

As the song goes, they all had their surrounding helpers, supporters, helping them out, acting as each other’s rivers. For example, when Jonas was slowly dying from scurvy – lack of nutrients from only receiving murky water, and bread everyday – Andrius stole a can of tomatoes from the NKVD, risking not only his life, but his families, to feed Jonas in his time of need: “ ‘Andrius brought a can of tomatoes. He fed them to Jonas,’ [Lina] said” (Sepetys 195). Proving that when one is in trouble, they know they can count on each other.

“Colors” – Halsey

“You’re dripping like a saturated sunrise

You’re spilling like an overflowing sink

You’re ripped at every edge but you’re a masterpiece”

Listening to these lyrics brought my attention to Lina and Andrius. In the book the two have feelings for each other, they grow closer and closer throughout the book. In order to save Andrius, his mother has to sleep with the NKVD commanders, the only pro being they live off of wholesome food, clean water, in a hygienic, warm cabin. Lina jumping to conclusions about why Andrius lived lavishly accused him of spying, and betraying his roots; although, Andrius is fuming at the thought, he still stays with her. Though they are both messes, “dripping like a saturated sunrise… spilling like an overflowing sink… ripped at every edge but [they’re] a masterpiece” (Halsey).

Lean On” – Major Lazer (Feat. MØ and DJ Snake)

“Fire a gun, we all need someone to lean on.”

Like the song said, they all needed someone to lean on. Whether it was each other, their hope, or just a letter from a loved one. Something that signified that their relatives were still alive, and breathing. Whenever one of them had received a letter, they would all huddle up together, and thank the heavens for this letter whilst living in hell.

“Keep Holding On” – Avril Lavigne

Keep, holding on, ‘cause you know we’ll make it through, make it through

Just stay strong, ‘cause you know I’m here for you, I’m here for you”

This is a very powerful song that can relate to multiple scenes of this book. When Jonas was sick, or when Lina, her mother, and two other Lithuanian women whilst digging holes, were compelled into them, and buried alive: “We lay next to each other. Mother grasped my hand… ‘I love you, Lina,’ whispered Mother” (Sepetys 150). Lina’s mother, and Lina had a powerful scene together when this was happening, the support for each other stayed strong. When the NVKD were done, they squeezed each other’s hand for comfort. Afterwards Lina’s mother rushing to get her unburied from the dirt, it was a touching moment.

Throughout the world, there are many amazing songs that we can incorporate. These songs really spoke out to me when reading, and I hope they will for you too. We can learn from this book that having someone to trust in times of hardship will be very rewarding. No matter how difficult the situation, you can always make it better, when you know you have someone to lean on.