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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray (edition 2011)

by Ruta Sepetys

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2,2962502,771 (4.25)136
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. 60
    The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig (keristars)
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    Torn Thread by Anne Isaacs (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov (dreamydress48)
    dreamydress48: Siberian work camps theme.
  11. 00
    Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag by Janusz Bardach (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: A well-written and extraordinary memoir of a man's survival of the gulag. His story also starts in Lithuania during WW2.
  12. 00
    Leave Your Tears in Moscow by Barbara Armonas (fountainoverflows)
    fountainoverflows: A book which Sepetys alludes to in her author's note and from which she drew some of the incidents that appear in Between Shades of Gray. An important historical document.
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    The Road of Bones by Anne Fine (celerydog)
    celerydog: challenging WW2 YA read
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» See also 136 mentions

English (245)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  English (Middle) (1)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  English (253)
Showing 1-5 of 245 (next | show all)
I felt slightly awkward reading this book in public, hoping no one would confuse it with the similarly titled bestseller by E.L. James. Originally I added it to my reading list because it was one of the few novels in the library catalog about Lithuania. Then, as I accumulated an excessive stack of books to read (of course), I worried that I'd never actually get around to reading it. But upon reading it, the book immediately drew me in.

The reality it describes is a harsh one. Soviet forces have occupied Lithuania, and World War II is raging. Having gotten on the wrong side of the Soviets, Lina and her family are snatched in the middle of the night, packed onto cattle cars labeled "Thieves and Prostitutes," and deported to Siberia. Separated from Lina's father, the remaining members of the family — Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, Jonas — struggle to stay together and support their companions from the journey. Considered enemies of the state, the deported Lithuanians face verbal and sexual abuse, starvation, and grueling labor. The degree to which they are made to suffer is shocking.

Despite the heavy nature of its content, the novel successfully hits a perfect tone for a young adult novel, deservedly conveying the horror of the Siberian work camps without making the reader lose faith in humanity. I was a little frustrated by Lina's mother's attempt to sympathize with one of her oppressors, but the author Ruta Sepetys nevertheless offers a vivid picture of the NKVD's brutality. The book is fast-paced, with short chapters and a gripping plot.

Besides having heard brief mentions here and there, I knew almost nothing about the labor camps in Siberia until reading this book. It fills an important niche, where literature is sorely lacking. I checked the library's catalog for more fiction on the topic and found only two titles: a suspense novel and a children's book. It's too bad, especially considering the context in which this novel was written. Lithuanians who survived labor camps to return to their country were forced to remain silent about their experiences for years, lest they be returned to the same hell.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
I listened to the audiobook version of this, rented from the library, & enjoyed it quite a lot. I am definitely a history geek, & enjoy reading about WWII & the Holocaust, but like other reviews on this book have stated, I didn't really know much about the specifics, other than a general knowledge that lots of bad things happened. It was nice to learn a few new facts, & this is an area of study I'd like to revisit in the future. ( )
  anastaciaknits | Oct 29, 2016 |
I recommend this book to people who like history. I think that this will be liked by the people who enjoy reading history because, it is about history and the Soviet Union when Hitler was in Germany . I have read the book and I am a big history nerd so I ate it up, I also loved it because I am big fan when it comes to learning stuff about Hitler and the Soviet. I recommend this book because the action never stops, something is constantly happening. Between Shades of Gray is full of action, adventure, and tons of different kinds of emotions. The reader of this book with never get bored, once you start reading you don't want to put it down. I am not a big reader but this book was one of my favorite, Sepetys, Ruta is a great writer and I cannot wait to find and read another one of her books.

Lina was taken in her night gown, they had twenty minutes to pack there stuff and leave. The Soviet Union was taking Lina, Jonas(her brother), and her mom. Many thing were going through her mind including where was her dad. The Soviets took her and her family to a train, they rode the train for about two months stopping every so once in a while to get food and water. On the train she had fallen in love with and boy named Andrius. They got to a camp and worked day after day for only three grams of bread. Lina shared a small cabin with some random stranger, her brother and mother, it was thin and constantly cold. Andrius and Lina soon got split up when Lina and her family was taken to a different camp. Lina's mother and her father died, earlier she had found out that her father was in another camp. Her and Jonas stayed alive on hope and love. ( )
  AbigailL.b1 | Oct 13, 2016 |
Between Shades of Gray grips your heart at page one and slowly begins to dig it's nails in with each page you turn. It's an emotional book about survival and how having hope can make a world of difference.

Lina and her family are deported and we get to experience the journey through paragraphs of words. Each sentence holds a certain punch and each tiny mark of punctuation pulls out a new emotion. It's not always pretty, but it's a story that's felt deep within the soul. I couldn't believe all that Lina went through. The way she was treated made me sick. To think that there are people out there that experienced the life in which these characters lived makes my heart hurt. It was an awful way of life and so many were lost during this historical time. Children, adults, women, and men... Some even lost their selves. They were broken down, stripped of all rights, and left with little dignity. It truly makes you appreciate the life you live and all of the privileges that you take for granted each day.

I can't say enough good things about this book. The writing was flawless and the story is one that is all consuming. I loved the way everything played out and I especially loved the quaint hints of romance. It wasn't an in your face love, but more of an I will do everything to protect you kind of love. It is definitely going on my all time favorites list. I recommend it to anyone that loves stories with an utter rawness that leaves you breathless at times.

( )
  ReadersCandyb | Oct 7, 2016 |
I picked up this book thinking it was about to Holocaust. As I read it of course I realized I was wrong but, I fell so deeply into this book it was astonishing. I recommend this book to every fellow reader I meet. It was truly amazing. I could not put it down. I finished it in one day. ( )
  Hve6610 | Oct 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 245 (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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