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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
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Between Shades of Gray (edition 2012)

by Ruta Sepetys

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0982343,142 (4.26)113
Member:ahsreads
Title:Between Shades of Gray
Authors:Ruta Sepetys
Info:Speak (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Wishlist
Rating:****1/2
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.
  2. 10
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  3. 10
    The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Great stories of hope and survival in the face of brutality and genocide
  4. 10
    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (ashleeeyyy88)
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    Night by Elie Wiesel (ashleeeyyy88)
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    The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (Milda-TX)
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    The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov (Othemts)
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  9. 00
    Torn Thread by Anne Isaacs (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In these deeply moving novels based on grim historical facts, teenage girls exiled from their homes do backbreaking work in labor camps, one in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and the other in Siberia, while fighting hunger, illness, and despair… (more)
  10. 00
    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 An important historical document.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
  14. 00
    Between the Stillness and the Grove by Erika De Vasconcelos (VivienneR)
  15. 00
    Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These two historical fiction novels for teens introduce readers to little-known atrocities of war. Although grim in nature, both books are compelling and eye-opening looks into the horrors that have happened to people because of their nationalities or ethnic backgrounds.… (more)
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» See also 113 mentions

English (230)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  English (Middle) (1)  German (1)  All languages (237)
Showing 1-5 of 230 (next | show all)
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 |
Compelling, heart-wrenching story of 15-year-old Lina's life in a Soviet labor camp after the Russian invasion of Lithuania. There are obvious parallels, both thematically and tonally, with Holocaust survivor stories (being transported via cattle cars, e.g.). Yet the drama of day-to-day life in the labor camp / work farm sets this book apart. The clean prose and warmly-drawn characters are an added bonus. ( )
  mjspear | Apr 22, 2016 |
This story touched me in a way I could barely explain. I felt so much disgust and anger that I could tear the book apart. It gave me so many goose bumps that I didn't remember for a quite while how smooth skin felt like.
Yes, you were all right; this is a powerful story, full of emotion, that will make your soul bleed and your eyes tear.

It's strange how can you find love and hope in such a hopeless place... The story was not as brutal as I thought it would be, but it broke my heart in many other ways:
It was their hope that broke me down, their smiles, their jokes, and Lina's memories from long gone happy times (As a side note I should mention how much I loved the transition from present to past, how one scene melted into another, how the past faded right in front of my eyes).
It was the love that killed me softly, it was seeing that those broken hearts could still find inside them the force to care when there wasn't almost any good left for them in the world.
And it was their force to keep going that made me love this book, because they were stronger when their body was weak, when their life was fading away, when they still held tightly to their dreams - even though they knew those were never to come true again.

The cover is absolutely perfect - It shows all the hope that filled their hearts, even when some of them were giving up their last breath. It reveals a piece of the settling, but also it shows that in all that coldness with which they were treated very few people showed them (just a bit of) mercy. ( )
  Sandra_Berglund | Mar 31, 2016 |
One of my all time favorite books! Set in Stalin occupied Lithuania during World War II, this story focuses on Lina Vilkas, a 15 year old Lithuanian girl and her family. At the start of the novel they are arrested by the Soviet police carted off to a labor camp in Siberia and forced to work under brutal weather conditions. As Lina and her family fight to survive against all odds, they also find it in themselves to be reach out and be compassionate to the other people who are suffering around them. Lina is an artist who is highly observant as she takes in the bleak world around her and attempts to depict it in her drawings. The world is cold and gray around her but she still manages to create beauty in shades of gray...the author definitely chose the perfect title for this novel.

Overall, I think this is a story that everyone should read, it will hopefully encourage people to be compassionate to one another and it will educate people on a fairly unknown part of WW II's complicated history. ( )
  Clair_de_Lune023 | Mar 26, 2016 |
A powerful story about one of the often-neglected areas of WWII, Stalin's brutalization of the Baltic states and Eastern Europe. The atrocities committed under Stalin are too often lost in the shadow of the Holocaust (in US survey history courses, at least--we still have a tendency to try to justify the fact we were allied with him), so I'm glad for this book and the reminder it serves. It's written in first person, in a simple, declarative style; for the most part it works, but not always. The narrator, Lina, often sounds too young even for a 15/16-year-old; a lot of her figures of speech are childish and clumsy. Towards the end of the book the author resorts to telling, not showing, and a lot of the plot points feel rushed and skimped as a result. For example: what happened to Kretzky? Are we supposed to assume he deserted? Where exactly did he go, if so? The end itself came all at once; I could have done with a bit more resolution. But all-in-all this was a strong debut effort, full of likable and well-rounded characters, faithful to the grimness of its setting without being hopeless. ( )
  9inchsnails | Mar 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 230 (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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