Thursday, March 31, 2011

Between Shades Of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

When I started to read the outstanding reviews for this book I knew I had to read it. This was a part of history I had never heard of. Stalin had anyone who he thought was anti-communist deported and hauled off to Siberia where they endured some horrible conditions. Some of those deported were lawyers, teachers, bankers..just every day people living their lives. The story is told by Lina, a 15 year old Lithuanian girl. The year is 1941 when the NKVD or Secret Police stormed into Lina's childhood home and rounded up Lina Vilkas, her brother Jonas, and her mother Elena. Her father was feared to have been arrested and taken to prison. They were led away in cattle cars and taken to a prison camp. Conditions there were extremely harsh. Eventually they are taken to basically a piece of land north of the Arctic Circle where conditions were unfit for animals let alone humans. The group of captives had to band together and become family to survive. Lina, being an artist kept track of their captivity by drawing pictures. I could feel Lina's hope throughout the story and found myself amazed at her will to survive. I'm not sure I could be as strong or as brave as she. The book is beautifully written. The subject matter can be uncomfortable at times but I think it is an important part of history that must be told. At one point the family is almost separated and Lina's brother is bought back by giving up a family pocket watch.

"Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch."

When I read that I couldn't stop the tears. To think this went on and the world had no clue it was happening was just shocking to me. Why hadn't I been taught about this in school? I would like to thank Ruta Sepetys for opening our eyes and our hearts to this story. The story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. If you read only one book this year, let it be this book. It is an emotional but an important read. This is a book that will stick with me forever.

I found this clip on the books website and wanted to include it. I hope you will be as moved as I was.

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

I read this book (which I purchased for my Nook) for my March read for the 2011 Just For Fun Challenge


  1. Just watching this video had me bawling. I already knew of the atrocities that happened in Siberia because I had read first-hand accounts of survivors from my religion (JW) who were part of those deported. The author is right. Love is powerful. This book will bring this part of history to light. We shall not forget, and as one survivor stated, God will judge.

  2. I loved this book too. I sent my copy to my mother because we had family members who were deported to Siberia. My mother and I had a wonderful discussion after she read the book and I learned even more about some of the brave members of my family.

  3. Both you and Bermudaonion have totally convinced me to read this... and soon!

    Have a great weekend.

  4. Oh my, your review makes this sound so compelling; it certainly seems like a difficult read, but one that is well worth it.

  5. This was such a horrible time in history, but it also makes for fascinating, compelling stories. I really want to read this one. I need to track down a copy soon! Thanks for a great review.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  6. I just put myself on hold for this book at the library. It sounds like WWII history that isn't as well known as the Holocaust, so I just have to read it. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.


I love comments so please feel free to leave them!