Between Shades of Gray: Book summary and reviews of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

A Novel

by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

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About this book

Book 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.

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Book Awards

  • award image Indie Booksellers’ Choice Awards, 2012

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A harrowing page-turner, made all the more so for its basis in historical fact, the novel illuminates the persecution suffered by Stalin's victims (20 million were killed), while presenting memorable characters who retain their will to survive even after more than a decade in exile. Ages 12+." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. This bitterly sad, fluidly written historical novel tackles a topic woefully underdiscussed in English-language children's fiction: Joseph Stalin's reign of terror. Ages 12+." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. ...Sepety's beautifully written and deeply felt novel...is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership." - Booklist

"By personalizing the experience of these millions through the eyes of a few, Sepetys demonstrates how courage and hope can keep people going under the worst of circumstances." - Shelf Awareness

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Reader Reviews

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Sydney

LOVED IT!!!
Between Shades of Gray is a wonderful historical fiction novel. We know a lot about what is happening in America and Germany during WWII, but what is happening in Lithuania? Finland? And many more places. In this book, you will venture with Lina as she goes through many hardships, emotional and physical. I loved Between Shades of Gray and I highly recommend that you read it too! :)

Me!

BEST BOOK
Such A Good Book!

Louise J

Hauntingly Beautiful
This beautifully written, sad story is a dark reminder from the past. The hard thing about reading the book beside the fact the story is based on truth is understanding that these horrible things did actually happen to these people. I thank those brave enough to bring stories like this into the open. As kind, compassionate, decent, and caring people, we must NEVER, EVER allow anything like this to happen again.

You will not be able to put this book down. Although hard to read, believe me, you’ll be so absorbed that you’ll want to keep reading. Be sure to read the “Author’s Note” and the end of the book for important information. Be sure to have kleenex standing by for this book! Absolutely excellent.

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Author Information

Ruta Sepetys Author Biography

Photo: Magda Staroweiyska

Born and raised in Michigan, Ruta Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. She holds a B.S. in International Finance from Hillsdale College. While in school Sepetys also studied at the Centre d'études Européennes in Toulon, France and at the ICN in Nancy, France

Her debut novel Between Shades of Gray, describes the genocide of Baltic people after the Soviet occupation in 1941, when nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia disappeared from maps, not to reappear until 1990. As this is a story seldom told, Ruta wanted to give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives during Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region. The book was met with broad critical acclaim, and was translated into over 22 different languages.

Ruta currently lives ...

Full Biography
Author Interview
Link to Ruta Sepetys's Website

Name Pronunciation
Ruta Sepetys: Roota Suh-pettys

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