Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books
[March 22, 2011]

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.

 This book was utterly beautiful and hopeful and heartbreaking. Maybe I just said that about Wither, but it's a different way.

The writing was beautiful, but the story was what captured me. To some, it might seem monotonous, to me it was mesmerizing. It was emotional and it really affected me. It kept me up reading for hours. Once I picked it up, I couldn't stop. I had to know what happened to Lina. I had to know if she lived.

I feel like I cried a lot while reading this. The first few chapters had me constantly on the verge of tears. Eventually I kind of numbed to it, but the last 50 pages had me in constant tears. I had to stop reading a couple times to sob. It was heart wrenching. At the same time, the novel was hopeful. No matter how bad things seemed for Lina, there was always a feeling of hope. Hope for survival and happiness. Hope that it would end. A beautiful hope.

This isn't the story you're taught in school. And I'm honored I was able to read it. And I will be thrilled to pick up anything Ruta writes in the future.



  1. Aw, yay! I've heard nothing but praise for this book; I'm glad you liked it! I'm definitely going to check it out. I'm a total wimp when it comes to sob stories, but I'm going to make sure I get through this one! *determined face*

  2. This book looks amaing, and I can't wait for it to come out.
    Brilliant review!

  3. This book is one of the most incredible books I have ever read. It is so beautiful. I'll admit I didn't cry as much as you, but it's really, really rare for me to sob while I'm reading. Beautiful review, Julie.

  4. It's fascinating when book changes your emotional state, really hard to explain to others around you what's going on....



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