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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray (edition 2012)

by Ruta Sepetys

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,1192393,098 (4.25)120
Title:Between Shades of Gray
Authors:Ruta Sepetys
Info:Speak (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Tags:P12, historical, world war 2, soviet, Lithuania, Siberia, NKVD, suspenseful, winter, adventure

Work details

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

  1. 50
    The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig (keristars)
    keristars: "The Endless Steppe" is also a children's book about the exile of Russian Jews to Siberia during WW2.
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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 An important historical document.
  13. 00
    The Road of Bones by Anne Fine (celerydog)
    celerydog: challenging WW2 YA read
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    Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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» See also 120 mentions

English (234)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  English (Middle) (1)  Piratical (1)  German (1)  All languages (242)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

Even though the subject matter was sensitive and disturbing this book is amazing, outstanding, and a well written masterpiece. Sepetys words were powerful and she was committed to the readers to create an honest story about history, human cruelty, survival, and love in such a brilliant susceptible thoughtful way.

The story is centered on Lina, a fifteen year old artist and her family’s tragic journey with other creative characters and events as the story unfolds. Lina, Jona her brother and Elena her mother were forced out of their home by the Russian Police and taken with other people to a train station and crammed into cattle car units traveling to Siberia, a destiny unknown to them. They all had to endure sickness, starvation, and death throughout their long journey where they were assigned to work camps.

Lina risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they would one day make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they were still alive. They all fought for their lives but Lina was fearless, vowed that if she survives she would honor her family and the thousands of people like hers by documenting their experiences throughout their horrible journey and maybe some day it would be known.

Whenever we learned about this time period in history we were somewhat speechless with limited words to explain why this had to happen. It wasn’t a book meant to make anyone cry (but I did) and then be set aside along with other stories. Lina herself may have not been real, but her story is a true story of thousands of people. I highly recommend this book. It’s a powerful and emotional book and a very worthwhile read.
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
This was gut-wrenching, but, oddly, I couldn't really engage with the main character. I found myself skipping...uh oh. ( )
  mmacd3814 | May 30, 2016 |
Absolutely wonderful!!!!!! ( )
  David.TenBroeck | May 8, 2016 |
Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray is a beautiful, emotionally draining book about the genocide of the Baltic people by the Soviet Union during World War II. I had never before read any books addressing this horrific aspect of the war; in fact, I’m not sure I even knew that this genocide had taken place. After being imprisoned and held as slaves for ten to fifteen years, the surviving Baltic people returned home to Soviet-occupied countries, only to find that they could not speak of their experiences without being arrested or sent back to the labor camps. They were silenced, and their trauma was hidden.

This YA historical fiction novel is about the Vilkas family, who are whisked out of their home in Kaunas, Lithuania, in the middle of the night on June 14, 1941. Kostas, the father, is separated from his family and imprisoned. The other three–mother Elena, daughter Lina, and son Jonas–are placed in cramped, dirty train cars and transported for weeks to an unknown destination. When the train finally stops, they find themselves on a beet farm, where they must live and work under horrific conditions and with extremely little food.

Lina, a very talented artist, begins sketching scenes from their daily life. She hides most of the drawings in her suitcase, but some she mails or passes on in the hopes that they will reach her father and inform him of their whereabouts. In the meantime, Elena, Lina, and Jonas love and support one another and their fellow prisoners as best they can.

Eventually, the three are transported to a Siberian camp in the Arctic Circle, where they must work and survive in sub-zero temperatures. They live in a mud hut and have very little food and no access to medicine. Blizzards pummel their little hut nearly every day. They must figure out how to survive the first winter, no matter what it takes.

Between Shades of Gray is a tearjerker and a painful read. But it is an important book, and a story that needs to be told. ( )
  blackrabbit89 | May 7, 2016 |
Ruta Sepetys has combined meticulous research with a family story to create a very personal account of Lithuanian families evacuated by Stalin and placed in Siberian labour camps during World War two. Like Salt to the Sea, there is a theme of small kindnesses that keep hope alive in the face of the atrocities of war. Sepetys’ characters display strong moral character and courage in refusing to do wrong even when unspeakable wrongs are done to them. This story sheds light on the hidden history of the people of the Balkan states during and after the second world war. ( )
  Lindsay_W | May 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (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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