Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Released: March 22nd, 2011
Published by: Philomel Books
Series: Stand Alone Novel
Star Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Chapters
Page Amount: 344
School Rating: A+ (91%)
Age Group: Young Adult Fiction


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.

First Line

They took me in my nightgown.


BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a very touching novel. I haven’t come across YA books dealing with the subjects such as the holocaust (other than THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS). I can’t say I have never heard of what happened to the Lithuanian people back in 1941. I feel bad, because I am well educated about the holocaust and the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup, but not what happened to the Lithuanian people.

I loved this book. Let’s through that out there right now. Ruta Sepetys wrote a flawless novel, one that is definitely high up on my favourites.

After reading this novel, Lithuania is one place that I would love to visit. One thing I would like to do before I die is travel the long distances that Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, Jonas, travelled. I want to visit every train station (if they exist) that they stopped at, and just remember all the thousands of people that died right where I was standing.

The plot was amazing… I think it was one that was very delayed in being written. A novel like this should have been written forever ago, and my hat comes off to Ruta for being the one to write about it.

I loved Ruta’s writing. It was raw, to the point but adding detail of the situation, which a lot of books like this lack.

I loved Lina as a character, I felt as if I were right there beside her going through these struggles. Jonas felt like MY little brother (the one my parent’s never had), and whenever something bad would happen to him my heart would break. And then there was Andrius, who was strong and intelligent, and a character I adored as soon as he was introduced.

The ending surprised me, but I felt as if Ruta made a good decision in ending it that way, it just felt like it was one of those things were it was the most ideal.

Overall, this novel was amazing. I loved every minute of it, and it caused me to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it, to see what would happen to Lina and her family. This is a book that everyone needs to read, and everyone needs to know what happened to the Lithuanian people in the early 1940s.

Cover Comments

I think the cover is gorgeous. It shows that something so venerable growing in the worst possible condition that a human can think of. I also love the barbed wire detailing.



P.S. To Stacy, I know how important getting this story out to everyone is to you. My copy of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is not ending at me. My mother, aunt and grandmother have showed interest in reading it, and my mother and aunt share a blog, which they will probably review it on.

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