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Ruta Sepetys

Author of Between Shades of Gray

9 Works 11,765 Members 767 Reviews 9 Favorited

About the Author

Ruta Sepetys is the award-winning, bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy and Salt to the Sea, for which she won the 2017 Carnegie Medal. From the Hardcover edition. (Bowker Author Biography)

Works by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray (2011) 4,820 copies
Salt to the Sea (2016) 3,228 copies
Out of the Easy (2013) 1,638 copies
The Fountains of Silence (2019) 1,258 copies
I Must Betray You (2022) 677 copies
Between Shades of Gray: The Graphic Novel (2021) — Author — 85 copies


1950s (57) 2013 (38) audiobook (51) coming of age (37) communism (34) deportation (44) ebook (47) family (74) favorites (40) fiction (392) genocide (69) Germany (56) historical (175) historical fiction (932) history (63) Holocaust (38) Kindle (39) labor camps (85) Lithuania (267) murder (59) mystery (73) New Orleans (112) own (36) prostitution (64) read (53) refugees (88) romance (73) Russia (125) Siberia (141) Soviet Union (93) Spain (56) Stalin (99) survival (137) teen (49) to-read (1,531) war (130) WWII (488) YA (335) young adult (399) young adult fiction (85)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Šepetys, Rūta
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Places of residence
Hillsdale, Michigan, USA
Los Angeles, California, USA
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Hillsdale College (BS|International Finance)
Business Manager
Nonprofit Director
Make a Noise Foundation
Mike Curb College of Entertainment
Sepetys Entertainment Group, Inc.
Awards and honors
Cross of the Knight of the Order (Lithuania)
Rockefeller Bellagio fellow
First American writer of young adult literature to speak at the European Parliament
Short biography
Ruta Sepetys is a Lithuanian-American whose parents' history inspired her to research and then write about the Lithuanian deportation by the Soviets in the 1930s and 1940s.
Ruta Sepetys (born November 19, 1967) is a Lithuanian-American writer of historical fiction. As an author, she is a #1 New York Times bestseller, international bestseller, and winner of the Carnegie Medal.

She is a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellow and the first American writer of young adult literature to speak at the European Parliament and NATO. Her work is published in over sixty countries and forty languages and is currently in development for film and television.

Born in Detroit, Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. She earned a B.S. in International Finance from Hillsdale College. While overseas, she studied at the Centre d’études Européennes in Toulon, France and at the ICN Graduate Business School in Nancy, France.

Following graduation Sepetys moved to Los Angeles. In 1994, she launched Sepetys Entertainment Group, Inc., an entertainment management firm representing Grammy-award-winning guitarist Steve Vai, multi-platinum songwriter Desmond Child, Orange County modern rockers Lit, and Emmy-nominated film composer Niels Bye Nielsen.

In 2002, Sepetys was featured in Rolling Stone magazine's "Women in Rock" special issue as a woman driven to make a difference. Sepetys is on the Board of Advisors for the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University and is also a director of the Make a Noise Foundation, a national non-profit that raises money for music education. Sepetys published her first novel in 2011 and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. She has been described as a "seeker of lost stories" who hopes to give voice to those who weren't able to tell their story.



Josie Moraine, the daughter of a brothel prostitute, is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld in New Orleans. It is a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny. This is a character driven book and I especially liked Josie's character. Her mother was a prostitute but she was not going in that direction. The plot was one that led me to read the book to the sad ending. I look forward to reading more from this author as I really liked this book. If you like heartfelt books then you will love this book.… (more)
EadieB | 118 other reviews | Oct 30, 2023 |
“Fate is a hunter. Its barrel pressed against my forehead.”

Salt to the Sea highlights a heartbreaking event in history that will have the reader weeping for what has been lost.

“I knew the legends of birds. Seagulls were the souls of dead soldiers. Owls were the souls of women. Doves were the recently departed souls of unmarried girls. Was there a bird for the souls of people like me?”

Salt to the Sea by Rita Septeys did not hit my core like Between Shades of Grey, but it was still worth the read. I love her representation in the historical fiction genre and her eye for capturing events. In this novel, Sepety's story revolves around a group of individuals traveling to board the Wilhelm Gustloff to escape the Red Army. Each member has a secret and is unsure who they can trust. Some people survive the journey to the boat, while others face their death.

“Yes, I know it must all sound hostile, but this is war. Brave men are reduced to numbers. These numbers are engraved twice on an oval metal disc we wear around our neck. In the event of death, they shall snap the disc in half… I am 42089.”

The Wilhelm Gustloff was supposed to be a vessel to safety but sank when struck by a Soviet submarine. An estimated 9,400 people died during its sinkage compared to the well-known Titanic, which had 1,496 estimated deaths. Salt to the Sea highlights the tragic journeys of people who persevered with the hope of obtaining safety but ended in catastrophic deaths.

“They refuse to abandon their estate. Instead, they have sent their servants toward the ships for safety. The family members have dug graves for themselves in their garden. Should the Russians arrive, they will step into the dirt pits and take their own lives.”
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M.E.Byrd | 187 other reviews | Oct 14, 2023 |
This book was a little harsher to read than the other Sepetys’ books I’ve read (or listened to) so far. That said, it brings to light a harsh history and the stories of those who suffered these realities deserves to be given a voice. I appreciate that the author did just that. What I especially love about Sepetys’ books is the author’s notes she includes at the end. Her desire to interest readers and her invitation to us to explore history beyond the fiction she writes is clear.

This particular version of the audiobook wasn’t my favorite of her works. In part, I think this was due to the reader. Her voice was painfully whiny throughout - even when characters were happy. I trudged through to hear the story. I think my season of life as a mother probably contributes to my aversion to hearing anyone whine in my own free, quiet time. I would personally recommend grabbing a hard copy of the book and skipping the audiobook version.
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Heather_Nerren | 344 other reviews | Oct 8, 2023 |
In BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, Ruta Sepetys describes how, even as the Soviet Union opposed Germany during World War II, they were ripping people from their homes, taking everything they owned, and exiling them to extreme hardship in Siberia. Her characters are fiction, but the book is based on fact.

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY begins in Lithuania when the Soviets took over in 1941 and erased it from the map. Lena is 15 and her brother is 10. Simply because their father is a university provost, they and their mother are sent to Siberia, their father to prison. Sepetys describes the next two years of their lives.

My only criticism of the book is the babyish way in which Sepetys refers to some of the characters. For example, one of the children who has also been deported to Siberia is referred to throughout the book as "the girl with the dolly." Sixteen-year-old Lena (her age by the story's end) apparently never considers that "the girl with the dolly" has a name. The same goes for "the man winding his watch," "the bald man," and various other characters who she lives with for 2 years. Granted, this is a novel written for young adults. But this sounds more like it is for 3 year olds.

More importantly, though, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a story that needs to be told. Not enough people remember it or are aware of it, even today. As an adult, I read and enjoyed it; this is a crossover novel, meant for both young adults and adults.
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techeditor | 344 other reviews | Sep 18, 2023 |



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