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Between Shades of Gray

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4.37  ·  Rating details ·  118,815 Ratings  ·  17,176 Reviews
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, ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Philomel Books
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Geraldine Yes, no problem. That is the order in which I read the two books.

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Sasha Alsberg
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really loved this book and it's story because I personally have never heard about this side of the war before and I'm so grateful I know about it now.
Maggie Stiefvater
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is not a pretty book.

Even though I found this novel exceptionally well-written, it was not a pleasure to read. It’s about Lithuanians displaced to Siberian work camps during World War II. It was pretty unflinchingly brutal, but here’s why I think you ought to read it:

1. It is a side of World War II that you might not have seen before. I certainly hadn’t heard these stories of displaced Europeans, and I have to say, having been to Lithuania on tour last year, it made so much of what they sai
...more
Lora
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of novels set during WWII
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to read this novel. Between Shades of Gray isn't the type of book I'd normally read, but I'm extremely glad that I decided to read it.

Lina is a very strong and courageous character. Despite the situation Lina is placed in at the young age of fifteen, she audaciously chooses to write about the terrible cruelties the Soviets are doing to those around her as well as her family and herself. Lina is an artist, and she uses this talent
...more
Lola
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don’t know what the educational plan looks like in other Canadian provinces – it should be quite similar to Quebec’s – but where I went to high school we learned so little about the social consequences of World War II, so I’m grateful I have books like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY to enlighten me on the subject.

Here’s the thing: this is different from Ruta Sepetys’ other novels. Maybe because it’s her first one, I don’t know, but suffice it to say, it’s not as impossible to put down. Because it foc
...more
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
Exactly a year before, the Soviets have begun moving troops over the borders into the country. Then, in August, Lithuania was officially annexed into the Soviet Union. When I complained at the dinner table, Papa yelled at me and told me to never, ever say anything derogatory about the Soviets. He sent me to my room. I didn’t say anything out loud after that. But I thought about it a lot.

Despite her father’s caution, 15-year-old Lena Vilkas, her 10-year-old brother Jonas and their mother Elena ar
...more
Ari
'Now my heart sank into my stomach where the bile began to chew it.'



Step on my heart, cut it wide open, rub it with salt and feed it to the sharks.. Or just make me read this book, because this is how it feels like reading this story.

How can I call “wonderful” a book full of so many horrors?
...But I will, because it really is, and what pains me the most is that it's all true, that this is a really tiny part of the darkest piece of our history as human beings.
You thought this was repugnant?!
Wel
...more
Angela M
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was so taken by the story of Lina and her family and all of the others that came to life here as they were deported from their homes in Lithuania, by Stalin's Russians to a work camp in Siberia. It's a devastatingly sad story of fictional characters but what makes it even more heartbreaking is that this story reflects a true story of a genocide that took the lives of over 20 million people . I am especially saddened by the fact that I knew pretty much nothing about it and I am grateful to the ...more
Jillian (bookishandnerdy)
These writings may shock or horrify you, but that is not my intention. It is my greatest hope that the pages in this jar stir your deepest well of human compassion. I hope they prompt you to do something, to tell someone. Only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself.


So I read this last night, and I went to work this morning. I was so deeply affected by this story, and my mind kept drifting back to Lina and Jonas and the countless real victims of the Baltic
...more
Emily May


Um... so I'm a bit torn on this one but I'm going to rate it 3.5 stars. I think what made it worse was all the bloody hype (like with Matched) that made me think this was going to blow my mind and it kind of just, well, didn't.

It was an interesting history lesson. My knowledge of Soviet activities was previously more political than social and anything I did know of the more personal impact on people's lives was what I'd gained from German museums telling the story of the Berlin wall. It's true
...more
Elana
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
(Edit, July 9, 2016: I was a pretentious 16-year-old when I wrote this review, lol. I'm 21 now and I'll be going back to edit it periodically.)

Let me justify my seemingly harsh rating. First things first, let me provide you with some (probably not necessitated) background into my interest in this book: I am an avid studier of Lithuanian history. I have rigorously researched this time period prior to this book's creation, thus I was absolutely overjoyed when I got wind of its publishing. It's abo
...more
Hailey (HaileyinBookland)
What a powerfully poignant story. Really unexpected and unique, but so so important. Video review to come!
Hirdesh
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I tried to sketch but couldn’t. When I started to draw, the pencil moved by itself, propelled by something hideous that lived inside of me.”

Oh my goodness ! Perfect Historical fiction book. It's more than my expectations and quite contemplate with "The Thousand splendid suns". Praiseworthy one, Enjoyed every word.
Words and ratings on here couldn't exactly defines this book........
Ruta Sepetys, I Love You ! ! !
What a splendid writing and expressions of Lina, she has made.
Just like she has exper
...more
Jamie
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Well done, Ruta Sepetys! A great book. Heartbreaking, but nicely written.
This book is a novel, but is actually based on history, during WWII. this story is written from the perspective of a teenager named Lina. she and her family are taken from their home in Lithuania by the Soviets. This story tracks the next year plus of all hardships they go through. The labor camps, the illnesses that struck, the deaths of fellow Lithuanians, cruel degrading treatment and more.

much is known about Hitler's
...more
Maxwell
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, kindle, ya
This is such a powerful story, and a subject that I knew nothing about. Most people know about the atrocities of Hitler's reign, especially those perpetrated against Jewish people. But in this novel Sepetys examines the lesser known genocide of hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians, and other Baltic peoples, under Stalin during the same time as the Holocaust. It's tragic and horrifying and such an important read. I'll admit that for a book aimed at young adults, Sepetys doesn't pull any punches, ...more
Samantha
I think I may have made a mistake reading this on audio, as I didn't find it as compelling as most. I found the narrators tone very off from themes of the story, which left me separated from it. This largely unknown history was very interesting and tragic, by I didn't feel the close connection to the narrative that many did, due to the version I read it in.
grace
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Finished this in a couple sittings. What a blow to the heart. So beautiful, devastating, and important.
emma
sure whatever i didn't need the remaining scraps of my heart to be operational a n y w a y

this, like the other ruta sepetys book i've read, Salt to the Sea, focuses on an extremely tragic historical event that is semi-forgotten, or at least not discussed often enough. in this case, it's Stalin's mid-twentieth century deportation of millions of people in the Baltic states.

this book is sad, sad, sad, impressive, well-written, and extremely important. and also so sad.

if historical fiction isn't you
...more
Matthew
Powerful! Tough to read, but an interesting take on a part of history we hear little about.

I have seen lots of reviews where people feel this book ends abruptly (maybe spoiler-ish stuff ahead), but I felt like it was showing that all they needed was someone to show them some compassion before all was lost.
Phrynne
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an extraordinary book and I am so pleased to have read it. It deals with a subject I knew very little about, it has no introduction and it has the tiniest of conclusions. The bulk of the book is about human endurance in unbearable conditions and it is amazing. Surprisingly, despite the sadness of the topic, there are many uplifting moments and it is very hard to put the book down. I now have to go find out more about this horrific time in our history which I am sure is was what the autho ...more
Tabetha
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating 4.5 Review:

"'NKVD officers are walking by the train with rifles,' I said. 'There are some men in dark suits looking at the train cars.'
We felt a jolt and the train began to move.
'There's luggage everywhere,' I said. 'And lots of food on the platform.' People groaned. The station looked eerie, desolate, frozen with only remnants of the chaos that had taken place. There were single shoes strewn about, a cane, a woman's purse lying open, and an orphaned teddy bear...'There's a priest. He's
...more
Norma * Traveling Sister
Hope * Survival * Love * Faith

Well that was another enlightening, emotional, and an absolutely awesome 5* read!

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by RUTA SEPETYS is a deeply moving, compelling, heart-wrenching, and a powerful read which is beautifully written that captured my heart from the very first chapter. This was definitely another page-turner and extremely hard to put down.

“A tiny sliver of gold appeared between shades of gray on the horizon.”   

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a brilliant title for this n
...more
Yaz *The Reading Girl*
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.”

When I read this quote my reaction was this:

description

What can I say? I am still recovering from this book. I mean literally recovering. It touched me in a way that Made me cry more than ever, made me feel mad, made me feel disgusted, and made me realize the horrors that these people had to go through. It made me realize what they had to suffer because they helped people or they were well educate
...more
``Laurie Henderson
If you enjoy historical fiction or young adult books I think you'll be interested in reading this one.
"Between Shades of Gray" brings to light a period of WW2 history that has been overlooked or forgotten; set in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

Before the 2nd WW began the Communist dictator Stalin, knew war with the Nazi's was looming and had concerns about the Baltic countries abilities to protect the Russian border from Hitler.
So he invades them and arrests all lawyers,
...more
Margitte
I have been reading books about the Siberian experience through many years, written by either survivors or observers. Each time I am confronted with the absolute horror of the people's destinies, I want to lash out and scream until someone would listen and make amends. Scream! Scream! Scream! And then break down and cry my heart out.
AUTHOR’S NOTE
"It is estimated that Josef Stalin killed more than twenty million people during his reign of terror. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estoni
...more
Nicole
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of WWII novels
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.”


4.5 stars

What a touching story! World War II brought misery to the world, it's common knowledge; However, what isn't though is how the life of the residents of the countries on USSR borders transformed. What they suffered, how much pain they went through and everything they had to endure, to survive. Told from the perspective of a young hopeful artist, Between Shades of Gray shows us t

...more
Dem
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow! what a great read. This is a story very simply told about a Lithuanian Family sent to the Soviet work camps during the time of Stalin and the second world war. The horrors of what this family and so many ordinary families endured during the reign of Stalin is shocking and I am glad to be shocked as I think every reader should read a book like this as it is an education in so many ways.
Although Shades of Gray is about a fictional family the story is the truth of what happened to many innocen
...more
emily
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I feel like my heart has been ripped from my chest, stepped on, then was educated on a subject that has somehow escaped every history class that I have ever taken.

First off, this was beautifully written. I watch a lot of stand up comedy and one of the most important things about a comedy set is delivery; how the joke is said, the timing, the inflections, etc. This is such a verbal thing that I have never thought of delivery in terms of writing but Sepetys has great delivery. I mean that she kno
...more
Amalia Gavea
I will not go into the details of the story, nor will I offer my opinion regarding the events described. This is hardly the place for me to do something like that. Instead, I will comment upon how Ruta Sepetys' novel made me feel.

I cannot remember the last time I cried over a novel. It must have been long ago. With Between Shades of Gray, it was hard to restrain myself from the very first chapters. During the last ten chapters, it became unbearable. Without spoiling a single thing, this book i
...more
Kristi
Oct 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'll admit it. I was sort of afraid to read this book. Well.... not really afraid, but just watching the video about the book had me bawling, and I was afraid to be in that set of mind again. I don't know about you, but books can tend to evoke strong emotions with me that will last for days... weeks, months even.

I wish I hadn't waited for so long. Unfortunately I don't think my review will do this novel justice.

I don't want to say that this book wasn't heartbreaking or that watching the disturbi
...more
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Fanatieke Nederla...: Maandboek juli: discussie Schaduwliefde [spoilers] 4 22 Aug 05, 2018 06:49AM  
Historical Fiction 2 8 Jul 29, 2018 10:19AM  
Fanatieke Nederla...: Maandboek juli: Schaduwliefde 19 42 Jul 15, 2018 04:57AM  
Serfozo English I H: Between Shades of Gray 4 11 May 18, 2018 06:13AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: Between Shades of Gray - Restarting April 25th 2018 200 231 Apr 30, 2018 12:39PM  
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8,581 followers
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. As an author of historical fiction, Ruta is drawn to stories of strength through struggle. Her award-winning debut novel, "Between Shades of Gray" was inspired by her family's history in Lithuania and is published in 45 countries. Her second novel, "Out of the Easy" is set in the French Quarter of New O ...more
More about Ruta Sepetys

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“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.” 666 likes
“Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness.” 627 likes
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