Between Shades of Gray

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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 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, Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 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, 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. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Lina , Jonas , Elena. Siberia Russian Federation Lithuania , Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Between Shades of Gray , please sign up. Gina Do your own homework! Can I read this book after Salt to the sea? Geraldine Yes, no problem. That is the order in which I read the two books. See all 69 questions about Between Shades of Gray….

Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 16, Sasha Alsberg 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. View all 36 comments.

Jul 04, Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing Shelves: recommended , young-adult. This is not a pretty book. Even though I found this novel exceptionally well-written, it was not a pleasure to read. It is a side of World War II that you might not have seen before.

I found their fierce national pride lovely and charming when I was there; after this novel, it seems incredibly brave and honorable. The mother is really the heroine of this story and that is my one nitpick about this novel: the narrator has no arc and no agency — all of the action is carried by her mother and her sort-of-boyfriend.

She has such an incredible flame and kindness in her. One of my favorite book moms. Shades of gray. The title promises and the novel delivers. Characters we think are horrid actually do incredibly kind things, and character we regard as friends do awful ones. If you combine 2 and 3, you get my favorite part, which is that it makes you look at people an entirely new way.

I love books that stretch my brain, and this one sat with me for hours and hours. View all 65 comments. Shelves: g-ya-hist , want-to-reread , quality-ya-fic , lib-read , favorites. Actual rating: 4. 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 Actual rating: 4. Lina is an artist, and she uses this talent to depict the ghastly scenes she's forces to witness on a daily basis.

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She then hides her drawings where the NKVD , hopefully, won't find them. In this she hopes that, one day, someone will find the proof of what really occurred, and make sure that it never happens again. I'm going to warn you, a good deal of this book is very grim and Sepetys doesn't cover up the horrors that were committed against these innocent people with euphemisms. There are quite a few shocking, disturbing, and graphic scenes in this.

You'll probably want to read something light and fluffy after finishing it. But much like the title of the book and the fledging plant sprouting up from the ice covered landscape on the book's cover signifies hope, the author does a wonderful job of incorporating snippets of hope even through the most grim of times for her characters.

Interspersed with Lina's time in the slavery camps, there are bittersweet flashbacks to Lina's life before her and her family were taken by the Soviets. I think they helped to break up the scenes of abuse and heartache, making the novel more palatable to the reader. There is also a light romance in this that is both sweet and a welcome addition to a story such as this. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade. I just hope that this isn't one of those one-hit-wonder cases where the author has one story to tell and never writes anything again.

I'd really like to read more from Sepetys, whether it be more stories such as this, or something completely different. On a side note, the finished, physical copy of this I say it in this way because some people probably have an ARC or an ebook is quite gorgeous. The jacket seems to be made of recycled paper, so it has a very natural, rustic look and feel to it. And it has deckled edges, my favorite. It's easy to be distracted by the deluge of YA paranormal novels with the pretty covers and the pomp and heavy promotion, but, I assure you, Between Shades of Gray is more than worth your reading time.

This book reminds me just how fortunate I am to be born in the era and country that I was, and I found it very humbling. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it, and I highly recommend it. View all 50 comments. My thoughts in a nutshell Between Shades of Gray is a harrowing read. My thoughts will be shorter this time because I couldn't say anything about this horrid occasion. A Lithuanian girl Lina and her family will be deported to Siberia. She has to learn to survive in a work camp without food or clean clothes.

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They have to work in terrible circumstances to avoid starvation. Lina is an artist. She draws everything that she My thoughts in a nutshell Between Shades of Gray is a harrowing read. She draws everything that she experiences. She has only one dream. Lina wants to meet her father again. What impressed me the most It's one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful book I ever read. It was my first book from Ruta Sepetys but not last. I've read historical fiction very rarely because it makes me depressed. I just do not understand why such merciless people live on Earth.

Why did innocent people die? Why were innocent lives need to be taken? I don't know the answer.


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Nobody knows. This story is about everything. The most important feeling in the book is wanting to live. I loved all of the characters, even the grumpy old man. I connected to everyone especially Lina. She is such a strong heroine. I was anxious about what will happen to them. Lina is a teenager and her brother is a little kid, he is only 11 years old. They had to grow up very early. If they don't grow up, they will die. If they don't work hard, they will starve to death. If they don't follow the rules they will die. If they aren't strong enough, they will die. If they aren't persistent, they will die.

They have no choice. The ending was bittersweet. I really like the author's note. Ruta has done huge research work.


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I appreciated it. Ruta Sepetys' writing style is gorgeous. I've read this book so quickly even though it had a hard topic. Ruta teaches me to be thankful for every little thing in my life. I'm very grateful to live in such good circumstances. Make a conclusion I gave it 4 stars , and I rounded up to 4. Ruta did an amazing job.

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I would love to read more from her. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know what happened in the past. Atmosphere collage aka. View all 23 comments. Mar 07, Lola rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , world-war-ii. Because it focuses so much on the psychological and social ramifications of World War II, the plot is rather slow and uneventful. Lina, her brother and her mother are sent to a labour camp in Siberia, where they are forced to work for food. Lina wants desperately to find her father, who was sent to prison for treasonous behaviour.

People are dying every day. Some are killed, some kill themselves. The war is hard on everyone but Lina knows she needs to be strong if she wants to ever see her father again. After all, whole communities of people are suddenly uprooted and forced into slavery… starved… beaten… rapped… killed.

Ruta Sepetys is an extraordinary writer. I hope she will write for many years to come. View all 21 comments. 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. But I thought about it a lot. The three of them are forced into a train car with forty-six other people, mostly women and children. Among them are Ona and her newborn baby, taken from the hospital just as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, Miss.

Grybas, a perfectly harmless spinster teacher, a mean bald man, supposedly a stamp collector, Mrs. Arvydas, wife of a murdered Lithuanian officer, and her year-old son Andrius, who has to pretend to be feeble-minded in order to stay with his mother. Needless to say, they are all treated like cattle. Of course none of us can stay indifferent to a story about so much suffering and Ruta Sepetys chose a very smart way to tell it.

Her writing is very matter of fact, her sentences are short and to the point. She allowed herself very little emotion, thus giving the reader a chance to fill in the gaps. I think it was the only way to tell such a horrendous story without overdoing it. When I finished this book last night, I was completely grief-stricken. How is it possible that we just went around all this, barely mentioning it? And I absolutely needed to be.

I think everyone should read Between Shades of Gray. Just get ready to be crushed into pieces by all the atrocities and suffering this relatively short book describes.

Between Shades of Gray

View all 31 comments. Sep 07, Angela M 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 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. I am especially saddened by the fact that I knew pretty much nothing about it and I am grateful to the author for telling it. It's so hard to imagine that this is a piece of history that is so little known and I can't help but think - how can that be?

This is a remarkable story for so many reasons. It's categorized as YA and it is simply and well written in short chapters but by no means does it lighten the load of what happened here. I would say that this should not be missed by any adult who thinks this will be a light depiction of the horrific events. I fell in love with these characters - Lina , and her mother, and her brother Jonas and we see so much of their father through Lina's flashbacks and of course wonderful Andrius. I was struck by the real dichotomy between what was happening to them and the happy, beautiful life they had before which is depicted in Lina's flashbacks - the comfort , joy and beauty vs the vile conditions, sadness , ugliness and death.

What remains constant is Lina's passion for her art , a sign of her hope. I am grateful to Ruta Sepetys for giving me this story and enlightening me to the horrors that occurred because in doing so she has also given a glimpse at the strength of a people that allowed for hope and the ability to see "A tiny sliver of gold View all 67 comments. Mar 30, Ari rated it it was amazing Shelves: emotional , favorites , movie-to-be , beloved , rereading-material , standalone , top-ten , best-of , historical. Or just make me read this book, because this is how it feels like reading this story.

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?! We 'Now my heart sank into my stomach where the bile began to chew it. Well, think again because this was only the beginning. What was left unspoken is what repugnance is really about. I will confess that I was bracing myself for worse and even though for many of you some scenes were horrifying, I know that this was nothing compared with the horrors that have happened in that period of time.

We learn about it in school, we know about it from books, there are movies and documentaries that will break your heart, because I repeat nothing hurts more than knowing that these things happened, it's not fiction - it's history, one written in blood and suffering Lina starts talking with a seventeen year old boy named Arvydas Andrius who was there with his mother. Andrius behaves in a mature manner and he even advices Lina to be careful how she speaks about the NKVD. The prisoners are not let to get down and use the bathroom so they have to use a whole in the train car to relieve themselves.

To keep the children occupied and distracted, Mrs. Rimas , a librarian also taken prisoner, tells the children stories. As the night falls, the prisoners share what little food they have before falling asleep. In the middle of the night, Lina is woken up by Andrius and they go investigate a train car full with men, hoping they will find their fathers. The children find Kostas who tells them that they will be taken to Siberia and gives Lina his wedding ring and a piece of ham to eat. Andrius insists on continuing to search for his father alone while Lina and Jonas return to their mother.

When Lina and Jonas return to the train, their mother is angry with them but happy at the same time to find that Kostas is still alive. In the morning, the prisoners are given a bucket with inedible food to eat and many refuse to do it. Lina is worried because Andrius never returned the night before but there is little she can do. When he does return, Andrius is badly beaten up and sad because he did not find his father. A while later, the doors to the train are closed from the outside and the train starts moving again. Scared, Lina looks outside and sees priests praying and performing funeral rituals while looking at the departing train.

It is then when Lina realizes that their lives are in danger. The train arrives in Lithuania in mid-June and even though the weather is nice, the prisoners barely notice it. In Vilnius, the train car transporting the men is separated from the rest of the train before continuing on separate ways. The train continues to travel for weeks, stopping once per day to be given some food and to get rid of the dead bodies inside the trains.

There, she tells her mother what she saw and Elena tries to reassure Lina by telling her that the rest of the world will find about them and eventually save them. To pass time, Lina draws on a handkerchief in the hopes that it will reach her father and he will know where to find them. Jonas spends his time counting the children that have died.

After ten days, they encounter a train with Russians who tell them that the Soviet Union and Germany are at war.

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

Some consider this good news, thinking that the Germans will save them. The only man who sees the danger the Germans represent is the bald man who tells them just that. Ona , the woman taken shortly after having her baby, loses her mind after her child dies. Jonas is affected by the sight of the dead child but Andrius tells her that he must get used to seeing dead bodies otherwise he will never be able to survive.


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The train seems to be travelling further south but without having a clear destination in mind. The passengers speculate to wheatear the train might be going but there is no way of knowing for sure. Lina loses track of time and more and more people die in the train. After six weeks of traveling, the train stops and the passengers are told to exit the train cars.

People in carriages appear and the prisoners soon realize that the NKVD try to sell them from profit as slaves to the Siberians. When the women get undressed, a soldier gropes Lina but her mother rushes to her aid and the soldiers leave the women alone. After being clean, the women and the men are brought back together. When Ona begins to cry again, a soldier takes her away and kills her. The group is taken to a farm and put to live in a home with another woman.

They find that they are to farm and work on the fields where they will be growing potatoes and beets for the Soviet Union. Elena refuses however and urges her children to be careful what they talk about and what they draw while in the camp. The Altain woman refuses to give Elena and her children food and tells them they must pay for it. Lina is shocked to see that the woman sleeps on a bed of straws and the conditions she lives in and thinks about the life she had back home.

The next day, the women are woken up and put to work in the fields, digging pits and put to do other various tasks. Elena and Mrs. Rimas theorize that people from other countries were deported as well and that there is a city not too far from where they were. Elena urges her children to thinks about the coming winter and how they will have enough food to survive. The NKVD gave the prisoners only grams of bread per day, too little to survive on considering the hard work the women were required to do. When Lina meets with Andrius, he gives her three cigaretts as a gift and Lina takes them back to her mother.

Elena smokes one herself, one she gives to Jonas and the other to the woman who is the owner of the hut, Ulyushka. They are put on a crowded, dirty train car for weeks only to end up in a work camp in the coldest part of Siberia. During WW1 the Ottoman Empire did a very similar thing with the Armenian population and engaged in genocidal massacres, and Russia removed Germans and Jews as well von Geldern. In , Stalin and Hitler signed a non-aggression pact leaving the Baltics to Stalin. In the Baltics were annexed into the Soviet Union and disappeared from maps.

Stalin then started drafting lists of people thought to be anti-Soviet like: military, doctors, lawyers, business owners, teachers, librarians, priests, and even children. They were stuffed into cattle cars, men sent to prisons and women sent to Siberia. In order to tell this story Ruta Sepetys visited Lithuania several times interviewing survivors, historians, family members, and members of parliament. She also spent time inside train cars and soviet prisons.

She said she specifically chose to write about the people sent to the Artic because they had some of the worst living conditions. One survivor, Irena, spoke to Sepetys for hours. One situation used in the novel was when young Irena walked over to the train car holding her father and other men. Her father gave her his wedding ring and told her that her mother would need to sell it for food. Sepetys also mentions that in her interviews with survivors some say that NKVD had secretly helped them, which occurs in the novel as well.



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