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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray (edition 2012)

by Ruta Sepetys

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1,6071894,523 (4.3)85
Title:Between Shades of Gray
Authors:Ruta Sepetys
Info:Speak (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

2011 (20) 2012 (17) 2013 (19) death (19) deportation (26) ebook (13) family (27) fiction (96) genocide (52) historical (41) historical fiction (185) history (16) Holocaust (17) labor camps (55) Lithuania (147) novel (12) prison camp (20) read in 2011 (12) Russia (60) Siberia (102) Soviet Union (59) Stalin (61) survival (60) teen (16) to-read (120) war (29) WWII (143) YA (94) young adult (87) young adult fiction (19)
  1. 40
    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
    The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail (joyfulgirl)
  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. 00
    Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov (dreamydress48)
    dreamydress48: Siberian work camps theme.
  5. 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)
  6. 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)
  7. 00
    The Road of Bones by Anne Fine (celerydog)
    celerydog: challenging WW2 YA read
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 00
    Between the Stillness and the Grove by Erika De Vasconcelos (VivienneR)

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» See also 85 mentions

English (186)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  English (Middle) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (191)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
It was a very interesting subject, and one that I have a little knowledge of, since I teach Animal Farm. However, the writing was very simplistic--more like a middle school level, even though the protagonist is 15 when the book begins. I read lots of complaints that the book ends abruptly, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared. ( )
  darcy36 | Jul 8, 2014 |
It's 1941 and the Soviet Union has annexed Lithuania. Lina, her mother and brother are torn from their beds one night by the NKVD. With no knowledge of where they are headed or what type of fate awaits them at their destination, the only thing the three are sure of is that they must not be separated or they will not survive. ( )
  jennifermarkus | Jun 16, 2014 |
History has never been my favorite subject, and I am admittedly ignorant on many historical subjects. However, I do enjoy learning about history through fiction. It's amazing how fiction has the power to open my eyes to reality. This book is fiction, but it is based on extensive research and based on interviews with survivors. If I could describe Between Shades of Gray in one word, it would be: eye-opening.

After reading this book, I'm a little embarrassed to admit my ignorance on this subject. I'm not sure if it was due to me not paying attention in history class or me never being taught about it. Obviously, I knew about Stalin and knew that bad things happened during his regime. But I knew nothing about people from Lithuania, Finland, Latvia and other places being deported and sent to camps in Siberia on his command. I had no idea that those people were enslaved in labor camps for as long as fifteen years. I had no idea that those countries lost nearly one third of their population during this genocide. I had no idea that Stalin is believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than twenty MILLION people! How can these things be kept secret? How can I be so ignorant?

Between Shades of Gray tells the fictional story of Lina, a fifteen year old Lithuanian girl. One night, the Soviets invade her home and throw her family into a crowded train car. After a long journey, they are forced into slave labor at camps throughout Siberia. For twelve years, Lina remains a slave in the hands of the Soviets, living in miserable, horrific conditions and suffering innumerable hardships. Despite the darkness and death all around her, Lina finds a way to survive through her writings and drawings, which give her hope and a reason to continue living.

One of the big reasons that I enjoyed this novel was the way that it opened my eyes to a part of history that I did not know. It was also well written with characters that I cared about. The writing is not fancy and fairly straightforward, and it seems appropriate for its young adult audience. I really enjoyed getting to know Lina, as well as her mother, brother, friend Andrius and others in her camp. I even came to care for the grumpy bald man who was obnoxiously causing trouble through most of the book.

The ending was abrupt, which frustrated me at first. I wanted to know exactly what happened to everyone, and not all of those details were provided. However, after more thinking, I decided that this is not the type of book where every loose end needs to be tied. I think a fairy tale type ending like that would distract from the point of the book, which is to bring light to a horrible, horrible, horrible genocide that happened to millions of real people. And the truth is that it didn't end well for most of those people.

This book made me feel sad. It made me feel guilty and angry. But it also made me feel hopeful. There is something inspiring about these people who had the will to live and survive even in the worst possible conditions. I'm not sure that I would be able to do the same. I especially admired Lina's mother for her determination to make the best of everything for her children's sake. As a parent, I couldn't help but imagine what I would do in the same circumstances. It was terrifying for me to read this book under that lens!!

To summarize this long review, I would say: Read this book. It's important and worth your time. ( )
  em0451 | May 25, 2014 |
Not sure how to put my feelings into words... ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
Not sure how to put my feelings into words... ( )
  patsaintsfan | May 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (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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