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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,8892812,866 (4.26)161
  1. 60
    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. 20
    Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail (joyfulgirl)
  3. 20
    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
    Night by Elie Wiesel (ashleeeyyy88)
  5. 10
    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (ashleeeyyy88)
  6. 00
    Stalemate by Icchokas Meras (Othemts)
  7. 00
    Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap (jillianhistorian)
  8. 00
    The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov (Othemts)
  9. 00
    The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (Milda-TX)
  10. 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)
  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 An important historical document.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
    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)

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» See also 161 mentions

English (275)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  English (Middle) (1)  Italian (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (284)
Showing 1-5 of 275 (next | show all)
Story of a young Lithuania girl who is taken to Siberia by Russians with the intent of genocide, to rid Lithuania of the the Lithuanians and the Russian take over of these countries. The hardship of growing up under these conditions. The main character is a young girl who is an artists and who grows up under great hardships in Siberia. The author's epilogue tells of her desire to tell the story of another group who suffered under a program of genocide by Russians. ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 26, 2018 |
I knew very little about the Baltic States that were caught between Stalin and Hitler during WWII, and I found this historical novel very interesting to read. Being 'sent to Siberia' has an entirely new meaning for me having experienced it through these characters.
I have read many novels and memoirs about survival in times of genocide and I am always inspired by the way hope and love of life, and the will to live, are the themes of the stories of the survivors. ( )
  ioplibrarian | Aug 26, 2018 |
After the annexation of the Baltic countries, the Soviet Union began mass deportations of Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians from their native countries to labor camps and prisons, claiming they were enemies of communism. Lina is a Lithuanian girl whose family is deported in 1941. She is an artist with a particular love for Edvard Munch because he painted things as he actually saw them. During much of the book, Lina is hopeful that one of her drawings will make its way to her father and he will come to rescue them. The story takes us through a couple of years of Lina’s life during this deportation. She makes friends along the way and through all the hardship, she tries very hard to keep hope alive, if not for her own sake, then at least for her mother and brother.
While history classes in America cover the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, we rarely hear about similar mass deportations and concentration/labor camps elsewhere in the world. Having taken a couple of Russian history classes in college, I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with this unfortunate period in Baltic history, but I had no idea about the scale of the deportations and imprisonments of the Baltic people until I read this book. It’s an important story to tell, and I’m glad the author felt the need to tell it after visiting some of her relatives in Lithuania and hearing tales of what happened.
The book ends on a note of hope, and then flash-forwards a few decades and fills in a few details. I wish some of those details had been fleshed out a bit more rather than just stated in the epilogue, but I see why the story ended where/when it did. I really liked the book, but it’s not an easy read. Lina’s situation is horrific and that comes through loud and clear on every page. People interested in historical fiction, particularly during times of great struggle, will want to read this book. Those wishing to learn a bit more about an often-overlooked period in history may also wish to read it. ( )
1 vote Jessiqa | Aug 21, 2018 |
Teenager Lina is forced to grow up quickly when her family is uprooted from their home in Lithuania and relocated to Siberia. Unfortunately, she doesn't make the transition quickly enough. She continues to pout, complain, and feel sorry for herself long after she should have recognized the gravity of her family's situation and how her careless words and actions could make a terrible situation much worse. Despite my frustration with Lina as a character, her story is told so well that I forgave her her faults. The story is based on the author's family and their experiences, and this adds authenticity to the events and characters described in the book. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jul 28, 2018 |
I will not go into the details of the story, nor will I offer my opinion regarding the events described. This is hardly the place for me to do something like that. Instead, I will comment upon how Ruta Sepetys' novel made me feel.

I cannot remember the last time I cried over a novel. It must have been long ago. With Between Shades of Gray, it was hard to restrain myself from the very first chapters. During the last ten chapters, it became unbearable. Without spoiling a single thing, this book is harrowing, nightmarish, dark. Is it really YA fiction? Hard to say, it depends on what each one of us define as YA fiction. Would I give it to my daughter if I had one? Absolutely, without any hesitation. ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 275 (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

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sepetys, Rutaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bernard, MichèleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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