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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray (edition 2011)

by Ruta Sepetys

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7221954,112 (4.28)90
Title:Between Shades of Gray
Authors:Ruta Sepetys
Info:Penguin (2011), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Modern Fiction, To read

Work details

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

  1. 50
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English (191)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  English (Middle) (1)  German (1)  All languages (197)
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
This is a bittersweet fictional story based on historical events. The way that Lina, her family, and all the others suffered is horrific, but their strength and conviction is admirable. The characters in this book are well-developed and draw you into the story. ( )
  triplet1976 | Dec 14, 2014 |
It's the last thing 15-year-old Lina expects: in the middle of the night, the secret police pound on the door of her family's house. Lina, her mother, and her brother Jonas are taken from their comfortable home in Lithuania and forced onto a train that will take them to Siberia. It will be many years before Lina is able to return to her home. Worse, her father is also taken, but in a different direction, to a different work camp. Lina and her family struggle to stay together, to find a way to contact Lina's father, and to survive the terrible conditions as they are moved from one train car to another, one work camp to another. Lina doesn't even know what crime she is supposed to have committed. She is often cold, often hungry, often tired, but despite all of this, there is still hope and love. There is still life.

This is an excellent book about an oft-overlooked part of history -- while everybody knows about the atrocities committed by Hitler, fewer realize that Stalin was, if anything, worse. Lina's story is presented plainly, but the bare humanity of the situation does not need fancy writing to add impact. I found this book gripping, reading the whole thing in a day, almost in one sitting.

I feel a personal connection to this story. Though my great-grandparents left Lithuania in the 1920's, they may have left behind friends and relatives who witnessed or endured the sort of hardship described in this book, as the author's note quotes an estimate that the Baltic states lost more than a third of their population under Stalin's regime. That's an appalling statistic, and though Lina's story is fiction, it's well-researched and accurate, based on the experiences of real people. That makes this book a difficult read, at times, but also a powerful one. Highly recommended. ( )
  foggidawn | Nov 21, 2014 |
New York Times Notable Book
International Bestseller
Carnegie Medal Nominee
Golden Kite Award Winner

In my opinion this is an excellent book. The characters are well developed and provided the reader with a “real-life” experience to the treatment of Latvian women under Hitler and Stalin’s conquests. The first person point of view, from Lina, helps to expand the character development and the experience the reader gets to engage in. The suspenseful plot helps keep the reader engaged and evoke emotions from the reader of empathy, anger, and shame. Anger when the family is split up and thrown into cattle cars, empathy when a women loses her child to death, the group is starving, and the Soviets treat them as thieves and prostitutes, and shame throughout the novel due to the fact that this part of history is rarely taught or known about. Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, explains the deportation of those who the Soviets deemed to be anti-Soviet from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia during the second World War. The novel follows Lina, her mother and younger brother’s journey. The family separated from her father and sent to their final destination in Siberia on cattle cars by the Soviet, also known as NKVD, officers. In the cattle car Lina and her brother, Jonas, meet a young boy by the name of Andrius. His mother who claims he’s mentally challenged saves Andrius, whose father was a Latvian General. Lina and her family depend on Andrius and his mother throughout the novel. Andrius is able to provide food, explain information and be a friend. Lina’s mother also exchanges her valuables to help provided for the family. Throughout the novel, Andrius and Lina get very close and promise to find each other again after the deportation is over. Lina and her family get sent to Siberia without Andrius and his mother. This is difficult for Lina but Siberia tests her survival more. Eventually Lina and Andrius find each other and share there equally testing stories about a harsh time in history to those who will listen. The two also get married. The big picture that this novel makes the reader think about is how valuable is a human life. ( )
  MelynnReadmond | Oct 6, 2014 |
I don't know why I always put off reading historical fiction because I always like them. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Note: This is an old review I wrote over a year ago and never posted. Whoops.

As I sit here, rubbing the bridge of my nose, I can already tell this is going to be a difficult review to write. Not because of the book itself. Between Shades of Gray has received a bunch of awards and even more praise from various corners of the internet, and rightly so. It’s a very pretty book that deals with heavy topics and is bound to end up on school reading lists across the nation.

Really, I suppose it’s my fault. I waited too long to review this book, and now I’ve found I don’t have much to say, but I’ll give it a try.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW AT: http://www.shaelit.com/2014/07/review-between-shades-of-gray-by-ruta-septys/ ( )
  Shelver506 | Jul 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (next | show all)
Hope Morrison (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, May 2011 (Vol. 64, No. 9))
This harrowing novel recalls the systematic deportation of thousands of Lithuanians following the Soviet invasion of their country in 1939. Fifteen-year-old Lina, along with her mother and younger brother, is taken during the night and shipped off on a freight car for a six-week journey to a labor camp in Siberia. After spending nearly a year there, her family is again deported, this time to a frigid outpost in the northernmost region of Siberia, where survival seems unlikely. Conditions in the camps are horrendous, with inmates forced to perform hard labor in exchange for bread rations and denied the basic necessities of warmth, shelter, and sanitation. Abuse at the hands of the NKVD (Soviet police) is abundant, and horrific acts of violence punctuate the narrative. A talented artist, Lina draws for an outlet—; more importantly, she creates pictures full of coded information that she hopes will somehow get to her father, who is suspected to be in a Soviet prison. Lina’s voice offers a careful balance of emotional engagement and factual summary, providing a compelling account of this seldom-told chapter of history. The novel provides a testament to the power of community, as the deportees keep one another strong through the most traumatic events and hold on to their will to survive in the direst of survival situations. Readers will want to know more at the end, since an epilogue suggests that Lina survived and returned to Lithuania but leaves many questions unanswered; ultimately, however, this is a powerful story that deserves extensive reading and discussion. An author’s note, encouraging readers to learn more about the events in the book, is included. Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 2006, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2011, Philomel, 344p., $17.99. Grades 8-12.

added by kthomp25 | editBulletin of the Center for Children’s Books,, Hope Morrison
Judy Brink-Drescher (VOYA, April 2011 (Vol. 34, No. 1))
Up until the night the Russian military pounded on her door, fifteen-year-old Lina lived a nearly idyllic life. She had recently been accepted to a prestigious art school and was told she had a very promising future. Now, men speaking a strange language are telling her mother that the family is being deported from their Lithuanian homeland. Without knowing the precise whereabouts of their father, Lina, her mother, and brother soon find themselves packed into a cattle car with many other frightened countrymen. With the help of sixteen-year-old Andrius, Lina discovers her father is on the same train but bound for a different destination. She decides to document all she can in images so he can find them later. Unbeknownst to anyone, many would not survive this trip, and those that did would end up in Siberian labor camps. It was also under these circumstances that Lina and Andrius discover the true meaning of family, love, and loss. In the shadow of the Holocaust, many might be unfamiliar with Stalin’s orchestrated genocide of the Baltic States. The first deportations began in 1941; many were unable to return to their homeland until the mid-1950s. Sepetys’s father and many of her relatives were among those who either managed to escape into refugee camps or were deported or imprisoned. In her debut novel, Sepetys offers both a compelling love story and a well-researched historical chronicle. The themes throughout this novel are mature, and therefore the book is recommended for high school and above. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2011, Philomel, 352p., $17.99. Ages 15 to 18.

added by kthomp25 | editVOYA, Judy Brink-Drescher
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In memory of Jonas Sepetys
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They took me in my nightgown.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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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In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Based on the author's family, includes a historical note.… (more)

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