Thursday, March 24, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of GrayFrom Goodreads:

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.
If this book doesn't become banned, I'll be sorely disappointed in the self-appointed safety-bubble police. This is a perfect book to burst that bubble and I'm proud to have read it. This book deserves to be on the shelf of every school in the world. It is an important story that is largely unknown.

I will not give anything away in this story as it is important to follow Lina in her heroic and harrowing tale. Her fight for life, just living and breathing is heroic within the conditions that presented itself. The story is often paralleled by her memories of a better time which also contrast to the horror the family, Lina, Jona her brother, and her mother Elena, are experiencing. The horror is made much darker by that comparison. It also provided Lina something else to concentrate on other than hunger and toil. The darkness wasn't surprising to me as I also realized what I was getting into by the first chapter.
   "Twenty minutes," the officer barked. He threw his burning cigarette onto our clean living room floor and ground it into the wood with his boot.
   We were about to become cigarettes.

There is one thing I will warn you. You will need some tissues by the end of this book. *shakes fist* Oh, I hate crying and I hate it even more so when I'm trying to keep my sinuses from closing up on me and looking like I was punched in the face. So, don't say I didn't warn you when you start blubbering like a baby. At least you weren't the only one to do that. *sniff*

I recommend this book to everyone. It is YA, but written simply and well. Younger YA audiences could easily read this, but for concerned parents know there is violence and rape by coercion. It is a book describing atrocities that occurred, but isn't any worse than is presented in the media today. I would suggest to those with young kids to read it first and then decide. It is a book I think parents should read anyway.

If you still aren't convinced to read the book, do watch the author talk about her book. It is about 10 minutes, but totally worth the time.

Ruta Sepetys discusses  her upcoming novel, Between Shades of Gray from Penguin Young Readers Group on Vimeo.

Chapter one
Official website for the book
I was given this ARC by the publisher and no compensation for my review was given.


  1. I am totally convinced - I want to read this book as soon as I can get it. Especially that I've heard so many similar stories from my closest relatives who also were forced to make that journey to hell (a.k.a. Siberia).

  2. Thanks for this post, a story that is little known it deserves to be told.

  3. I really need to get my hands on this book soon! I am not a fan of crying either but I love thought-provoking books that make you feel so deeply for the characters.

  4. I have heard lots of great reviews on this book. I really want to read it. Thanks for the review!

  5. I've been seeing this one around a lot lately and I don't think I've seen a single negative review for it, so I can't wait to read. Well, I might wait a little while, I haven't been in a crying mood lately and based on your warning, this one will make me sob like a little girl:) Fabulous review Melissa!

  6. *spit take* Blahahahaha! Melissa! You crack me up! Only you would say something like that. Safety-bubble police. Oye.

    I don't think I've read a bad review for this book yet! The excitement in my has been building! Sorry for the tears you shed, but that is really saying something about how powerful and moving the story must be. I'm really looking forward to reading it. :D

  7. I was just reading an interview with this author. The book sounds heartbreaking, but a must to read. I know nothing about this historical event, shame on me!

  8. What a wonderful review! I've heard so many wonderful things about this book! Mostly what a sad story it is but also how brave the MC is.

    I need to read it but I think I have to be in the right frame of mind, LOL.

    Thanks so much for sharing this!


  9. Sounds emotional, and a must-read. But tissues, I do not like to cry and I know I would. But I can brave it

  10. @anachronist... how sad. I'm sorry they had to endure such atrocity.

    @...Petty... I totally agree!

    @Misha... I think you'll love this one.

    @Savannah... Thanks! I'd love to see what you think of it.

    @Jenny... Well, I can only sob like a girl, no matter what I try. ;D

    @Missie... *hands napkin* :D Yep, I was bawling like a baby.

    @Stephanie... I didn't really know anything either. A lot of people don't at all.

    @Kristi... Thanks... Since it is written for YA, I don't think it will be too hard on you. I just hate crying.

    @Blodeuedd... I'm with you, but if I can blubber, so can you. I need to know I'm not the only crier.

  11. Oh sounds like a very powerful read! Great review. And I know the feeling about those sinuses. I'm working hard on mine right now too.

  12. I have read SO many fabulous reviews for this now. I just love how powerful it sounds, and I'm really in the need for serious reads right now. I'm feeling it in my bones haha this is for me :)

  13. Awesome review. Like everyone else I have been hearing rave reviews from this from my most trusted reviews. It is a definitely on my wishlist.

    I love books that blow me away emotionally :)

  14. Oh gawd, thanks for the review, I'm almost afraid because of the tissues lol I will save it for when I feel like weeping :)

  15. @Melissa (my world)... I really think you'll like this book. Even if it clogs the air ways. :P

    @Melissa (swims)... I think this would be right up your alley.

    @Nic... You'll like this one then. :)

    @Samita... *hands box of tissues* There, you are all set. :)

  16. I am all over this one. I have heard all positive reviews


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