Joana is Lina’s elder cousin and best friend. Though Joana is not present in the novel, Lina recalls her blissful summers with her cousin and the letters the two exchanged. Joana is studying to be a doctor, and Lina learns throughout the course of the novel that Kostas was imprisoned—and thus Lina, Jonas, and Elena deported—due to the fact that he helped Joana and her family repatriate to Germany, where Joana’s mother is from. Lina thus feels conflicted towards the memories of Joana, since she was someone who Lina once looked up to but who now seems to be reaping the benefits of Lina’s family’s misery. Joana represents the person Lina wanted to grow up to be, and the person she hopes to become if she survives the labor camps.
The Between Shades of Gray quotes below are all either spoken by Joana Vilkas or refer to Joana Vilkas. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of Between Shades of Gray published in 2012.).
The timeline below shows where the character Joana Vilkas appears in Between Shades of Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...Lina Vilkas settles down to write a letter to her older cousin and best friend, Joana, in her comfortable middle-class home in Lithuania. Suddenly, there is a ferocious knock at the... (full context)
...Lina recalls receiving books of Munch’s art from Oslo. She also receives a letter from Joana, who notes that her parents argue and seem distressed. Things have changed since the annexation.... (full context)
...America, but Lina still doesn’t want to leave Kostas behind. In a flashback, Lina recalls Joana telling her about fashionable universities in America. Lina says she doesn’t care much for America,... (full context)
...with accessory. In a flashback, Lina recalls hearing Kostas talk about repatriation. A letter from Joana reveals that Lina’s uncle has been acting strangely, doing things like packing up books. She... (full context)