Between Shades of Gray, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The New York Times bestseller Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a harrowing story of a Lithuanian family who suffer unimaginable hardship and deportation during World War II, pitched perfectly for children and adults alike.That morning, my brother's life was worth a pocket watch . . .One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away.

They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again.

But she refuses to give up hope.Lina hopes for her family.For her country.For her future.For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . .Will hope keep Lina alive?Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.'This superlative first novel by Ruta Sepetys demonstrates the strength of its unembellished language.

A hefty emotional punch' New York Times'Her prose is restrained and powerful, as unadorned as the landscape in which her characters struggle to survive...

Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both' The Washington PostBorn and raised in Michigan, Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee.

Ruta lives with her family in Tennessee. Between Shades of Grey is her first novel.


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Review by

This is a book targetted at the young adult market but it so effectively highlights the horrific truth of the treatment of Lithuanians by the Soviet army that I would encourage all ages to read it. It tells of the transportation of a young girl, with her mother and brother, from their home in Lithuania to the wilds of Siberia. The narrative voice is 15 year old Lina and there is an effective juxtaposition between the horrific jouney through Russia and her previous life at home. It is a harrowing tale that moves the reader and encouraged me to look into the historical details of this period. Although it is a fictional account it does draw on the real experiences of the author's family and I believe this adds depth and truth.I will be encouraging family members to read it as it is a book that makes you think and feel!

Review by

Lina Vilkas is a 15 year old Lithuanian girl when she is deported, with her mother and brother, to Siberia on a cattle truck. Her father is split up from them and sent elsewhere. She and her fellow passengers endure a horrendous journey across Europe and into the Arctic Circle. People die along the way, and only the strongest will survive.Lina tells the story of the journey and life in the camps they end up in, and she does it in a matter of fact sort of way, but which never shields the reader from the horrors she endures. The fact that we know it's based on real life events makes it all the more shocking.Between Shades of Gray is an absolutely brilliant read. It's very well-written and is a moving tale of survival against the odds. The author's note at the end is very interesting too. I certainly never realised what people from the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had to endure in the 1940s and 50s.I would definitely recommend this book as an excellent read and a compelling story. The chapters are very short, which made reading just one more very easy. This is a triumphant first novel from Ruta Sepetys.

Review by

Outstanding.It's not often that I whizz through a book in 2 days but that was the case with this brilliant book by Ruta Sepetys. I have read a number of Holocaust novels and accounts but not one that related the fates of the hundreds of thousands of Baltic citizens who were herded from their homes to act as slave labour, not for being Jewish but for being teachers, lawyers, accademics, or from military families. This was an atrocity perpetrated by Stalin, not Hitler, and his aim was a 'cleansing' of the Baltic States, which were then to disappear from maps for fifty years.Lina, her brother and mother were dragged from their Lithuanian home in June 1941. Lina's father had not returned home that evening having already been snatched from the university where he worked. What followed was an ordeal that many did not survive: shortage of food, lack of sanitation, long journeys in cramped spaces and freezing temperatures. What happened to this family has been culled from real life accounts that Ms Sepetys obtained from survivors of these atrocities.The sense of love and mutual support between these people was a strong feature of the book, along with the desire to have their story heard and recorded for generations to come.Making this a young adult novel was also a stroke of genius, I hope it will become a central part of school reading lists, warning of the horrors of war and ethnic cleansing. While many books on this subject are available for the adult market, there seems to be far fewer for youngsters and this will fill a much needed gap. However, this is not just a book for young adults, I read it with equal fascination as an adult book, just with shorter chapters.Highly recommended.