Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Posted by Caitie F on September 20, 2011

Title: Between Shades of Grey
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Hardcover: 344
Publisher: Philomel Books
Year Published: 2011
Rating: +++++


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 you are looking for an emotional book that will break your heart a little while showing you perseverance and hope, look no further. The summary was enough to make me pick the book up, but what kept me hooked was the writing and that i never even knew that it happened.

Somehow, when I learned about the horrors of World War II, we skipped the part about 1/3  of a nation being deported and put into work camps. Where anyone that Stalin was afraid of, which was mostly the most highly educated people, were taken from their homes at night and treated like animals. I am so glad I know about it now, because these people are amazing. We missed it because, until the USSR was dissolved, these people couldn’t tell their stories even when those who survived were returned home.

This is a work of fiction, but you can tell that Ruta did her research. It is stunning.

Lina gives a beautiful perspective since she is a teenage girl. She can relate to how the younger people feel, but she can see the toll the stress is taking on the adults. She can keep some hope alive, but sees the lies and fear behind everyone’s hopeful eyes. Since se is an artist, she looks at the world differently and it makes this story exciting and makes it easier to see what she sees.

I wish I could have seen the art that is described. I got a very vivid picture in my mind, but I wish someone had made some of these drawings come to life.

This book is truly beautiful. You should read it if you haven’t yet.


2 Responses to “Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys”

  1. I agree! I LOVED this book – it will probably one of my favorites of the year.

  2. […] Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys […]

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