Aly (Fantasy4eva)'s Reviews > Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
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"I look for characters that may not be classically beautiful, but have a beautiful capacity to love." - Ruta Sepetys

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY centres around a story, in which the Baltic countries of: Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania that were wiped of the map. A genocide on such a scale that the people were close to forgotten, nearly. You see, Stalin was sneaky in how he went about things. People were taken without warning. They had no time to tell loved ones where they were being taken and very few made it back. The author says it best: "However, he underestimated their will to live." People did survive. This book is proof of that.

Fifteen year old Lina is our protagonist. Through her eyes we witness the immense fear, suffering, hunger and pain they will face. The strange thing is, that no matter how intense or tough things got - I never shed a tear. But instead what I experienced might have just been worse in its own right. Instead there was this constant feeling of dread that lingered after every page I turned. This anxiousness that followed. I became very depressed and at a certain point just wanted the book to end. But I knew it was vital that I savour every moment and remember.

Lina's house is broken in by Soviet guards and they are forced into cattle cars. Whilst in the cattle cars, it's there that Lina meets Andrius and his mother, Mr Lukas, Mr Stalas, Janina and her mother, Mrs Rimas, Miss Grybas and a mother with a new born baby who was taken with her child and thrown in the moment they cut the umbilical cord. These people, in particular, may have their differences, but Lina and her family will form a sort of camaraderie with them. They will look out for one another in times of dire need. I really grew to adore every one of them. They were such lovely characters. And although some may even deem one or two unlikeable, the strength, love and compassion they show towards one another - regardless of what they are going through - is just mind blowing to me. Lina's mother, Elena, is a whole other story. This women is remarkable. She is kind and considerate towards others. She is such a pillar of strength for the group. There are not enough words that can explain how much I admire this women. However, the conditions are horrible. Too many people in such tight spaces results in diseases and starvation taking over. Many are dead before they have even reached the destination.

It's not an easy read. Far from it. Many die. It is heart - breaking and tough to digest for a while. There is hardly enough time to mourn one death until another has occurred. But in the midst of all this, Lina's courage and hope shines through. Her will to live is inspiring and so very touching. She is just a girl, but clearly she is her mothers daughter. Her brother Jonas is another to take note of. He is just eleven years old, yet without a blink takes the role of protector.

Andrius and Lina <3 These two made me smile so. I did not expect their feelings towards one another to move me the way they did. You would think that there is no will to care or feel for another when there is so much suffering. But Andrius and Lina feel. I couldn't stop smiling every time they were around one another. I found what they shared so sweet and endearing.

The thing is, that no matter how dark the book can get at times - there is also quite a bit of humour. There were instances where I would have this big grin on my face and then suddenly feel guilty. But I think it's important that readers and the characters have that. Sometimes, when everything seems so grim - you need laughter and smiles to let the light shine in.

Kretzsky ;) I was intrigued by him the moment I saw him. There was something about him that just drew me to him. Like the author, there is a scene between him and Lina that was a favourite of mine. It showed a side to him that I was just waiting to reveal itself. It showed us that in all our anger and pain, sometimes we want to point the finger and blame ALL the Nazi and ALL the NKVD, but it's through this character that we are able to realise that there is always goodness in people. No matter what side they are on.

Beautifully written and extremely touching: BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a story that needs to be heard.

Note: I also interviewed the author on the blog, which you can find here: http://blueicegal-fantasy4eva.blogspo...
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Quotes Aly (Fantasy4eva) Liked

Ruta Sepetys
“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.”
Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray

Ruta Sepetys
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.”
Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray

Ruta Sepetys
“Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness.”
Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray

Ruta Sepetys
“Good men are often more practical than pretty " said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.”
Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray


Reading Progress

10/12/2011 page 151
44.0% "A part of me wants the book to be over already but the other side of me knows how important it is to soak in every moment, no matter how painful it is. I knew it was a tough read but I'm getting really depressed. On the other hand, I am amazed by her mothers strength. What an amazing women."
10/12/2011 page 151
44.0% "That kiss has me smiling. I'm such a dork. But it's such a gift to witness the smallest of affections when they are going through so much."
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Reynje This book is incredible. So powerful..


Aly (Fantasy4eva) I read it a while back. I remember being so touched by it. Think what really stuck with me was how there was so much love and kindness in these peoples hearts, despite going through so much. Thought it would be best to re - read it before reviewing it to refresh my memory :)


Reynje Yes, it's a pretty special book. I thought the same thing, that I should re-read (eventually) before I attempt to review it.


Nomes Gorgeous review Aly :)

I passed my copy on to a few people (back in Jan) and this has reminded me it has not come back to me yet :/ it's definitely a keeper, for sure.


Alanna I loved this book, I forced a bunch of my friends to read it. There's a few Estonian people from tumblr and deviantart that I've talked to/we've been following each other for a few years and it's so strange to think that their parents or grandparents or people they know could've gone through that or would've been affected by it in some way (I mean the Soviets were still in these countries up until the late 80's/early 90's).

I wish there were more books or movies on the subject, there's countless on what Hitler did to the jews but not what Stalin did to The Baltic States.


Aly (Fantasy4eva) Alanna wrote: "I loved this book, I forced a bunch of my friends to read it. There's a few Estonian people from tumblr and deviantart that I've talked to/we've been following each other for a few years and it's s..."

Exactly. I mean this story is so so important. Not many know about it or it's either just brushed aside. When it's so vital that what happened to these people is never forgotten. It's a tough read, but very worth it :)

Nomes wrote: "Gorgeous review Aly :)

I passed my copy on to a few people (back in Jan) and this has reminded me it has not come back to me yet :/ it's definitely a keeper, for sure."


Thanks Nomes :) Oh man, that sucks :( Not considered to get back in touch and ask for it? Did you actually read it? Was wondering if you had reviewed it.

Reynje wrote: "Yes, it's a pretty special book. I thought the same thing, that I should re-read (eventually) before I attempt to review it."

Yeah. I'm kinda picky when it comes to details. So even if it's been a few weeks, I just feel like I need to re-read. Think it's on the best-seller list. So happy, it completely deserves every inch of the praise it's gotten. :)


Nomes Oh, yeah, I read it :) I wrote a review on here too (back in January, I think?)

I am missing about 20 of my books at the moment... I am considering not loaning my books out any more? They often come back all roughed up (pen marks, dogearred, scuffed corners on the covers). I try not to be anal and get over myself but it still bugs me for some reason?

Plus, the whole waiting for months for them to come back thing...

Do you loan your books out?

(sorry to change topic on your comment thread :))


Reynje Sorry to barge in again :) Nomes - I rarely loan my books out. I feel a little bad for that sometimes, but I only loan my books to people I really trust with them..I mean, if they're keepers, I kind of want them looked after.

I can definitely be a little anal about the condition of my books :)


Aly (Fantasy4eva) Reynje wrote: "Sorry to barge in again :) Nomes - I rarely loan my books out. I feel a little bad for that sometimes, but I only loan my books to people I really trust with them..I mean, if they're keepers, I kin..."

Same here. I mean I have given many books to my best mate to borrow, but even then I've been a little anxious for my babies. LOL I'm quite protective of them. Shipping costs and if I do let someone borrow them, I'd want to make sure I can trust them and that the books won't be ruined.

Nomes wrote: "Oh, yeah, I read it :) I wrote a review on here too (back in January, I think?)

I am missing about 20 of my books at the moment... I am considering not loaning my books out any more? They often co..."


Nomes love, you can talk about whatever you like, dearie :) Holy Shizz, 20! Hun, of course it bugs you, I'd be furious if that happened to me and the fact that some of them haven't been returned is horrible.

No, never loaned them out apart from my best mate. I keep them in good condition so I'm a little anal about them being in good condition too.


Nomes The thing is, I only own my FAVOURITE books. If it is not a fave read, I put it in my swap list, give it away or donate to my library.

I even loaned out a couple of personally signed books... which I kind of regret (I do not have that many signed books, and only a couple which the author sent to me as a gift).

I am anal about my books too. I always use book marks, have clean hands, etc.

That is one good thing about having a kindle ~ no one can ruin my ebooks, LOL. (or even borrow them, really. well a few of mine are lendable...)


Reynje My family makes fun of me because I don't break the spines on my books :) I hate creased spines, unless its a really old, second hand copy I picked up somewhere - then the wear and tear has sentimental value.

Apparently I have some funny way of holding my books to prevent spine-breakage :)


Nomes Oh ~ I dont break spines either. A few of my friends have commented that they don't think I even read my books as they all sit there in immaculate condition.

My husband trashes his books > highlights, dog-ears, creases, etc. It doesn't worry me on his books ;)

I am not anal about second hand books (or nervous about swapping books with people). If I want to read a book, I will read it in any condition it comes in. If I have a favourite book that I have purchased brand new and want to keep forever, I lie to keep it pristine :)


message 13: by Simona (new)

Simona Aly, "wiped of the map"?? Disagree. We still were there. Just as a part of Soviet Union.


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