Dec 2, 2011

Review | Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Young Adult
Publication: 03.22.2011 by Philomel Books
Pages: 344
Source: Library

Summary: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Cover: A very simple, calm looking cover that I find very nice.

Thoughts: Between Shades of Gray is a powerful, moving and heartbreaking novel that I am very glad that I picked it up. Like many others who read this, I had no idea of these events that took place during WWII, at the same time as when Hitler was in control. Stalin was just as cruel to people and he killed millions, but it is shocking that this part of history is so unknown. Between Shades of Gray is definitely an eye-opening book that I am glad Ruta Sepetys decided to write and share with the rest of us.

The author does an amazing job in telling the tale of Lina, an excellent character, who struggles to survive in such terrible conditions. She is a brave young girl and everything that she does to live shows how courageous she really is. Her mother and brother and extremely important characters that the reader learns to love as well, so it is really painful to watch them all suffer so much.

The story is told with glimpses into the past, and it is really sad to learn how wonderful Lina's life really was before their life was destroyed. There are a few light moments in which the reader can see how hope can help some situations seem a little better, but overall, this is a tough book to read. It is an amazing story, but it is also horrifying. I cried in several parts of this book, but I enjoyed each and every one of the pages.

I recommend this to others who have read and enjoyed books based on the Holocaust or who would be interested in learning more about that part of history. Though it is historical fiction, the experiences that the author describes were real and make this book a must read. Also be sure to read the last part in which the author shares her family's experiences during the 1940's, it adds a lot to the ending of the book.

*I listened to the audio version of this book, and while I did not like the narrator's voice, it did not make this book any less amazing, and that is why I still gave it 5 stars.
Favorite Quote: "Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch."


  1. I've seen reviews of this book go up around blogland but I've never really paid attention. Your review has shown me the folly of that. Thanks for the review.

  2. Fantastic review, darling! ♥ I love books about the Holocaust, so I'll definitely be checking this out! :)

  3. This book was definitely amazing and horrifying - it actually made me cry too (which is very rare for me).

    Great review! :)