Sunday, July 15, 2012

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys-Review

I read this book because it was the book club pick for my Young Adult Book Club and am so glad that it was picked!!  Here is the goodreads description:

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

Finished this book while at Comic Con. And I have to say WOW!! Personally I thought this book was amazing. I was very surprised at it. I don't read a lot of historical fiction so I was quite surprised at how good it is.

SPOILERS to come!! I only teared up at one part... when the mother died. I really did think that was sad. Ok.. and also when Andrius and Lina had to separate. That was actually really sad. description
It makes me sad to think that no one paid attention to the people of Lithuania. I didn't know what to think about the part when the American Ship appeared. I think maybe someone should've run out as soon as they new the Americans were off the ship. I guess everyone was just so afraid.

The characters in this book are amazing and have sooo much depth. The bald man... who seemed so bitter. Ona and her baby which had such an impact on me. Lina's brother Jonas who grew up so fast in the novel, her mother Elena who inspired me to try harder to be kinder to people, Mrs. Arvydas who's choices were so hard to comprehend, the grouchy woman and her children, Kretzsky who knew that everything he was doing was wrong and was just stuck in a life he didn't want to be in, the man who always turned the dial on his watch, Lina's father and cousin, who am I forgetting?? The two ladies and I can't remember their names. One was a teacher. These characters all were written is a fabulous way. I felt like I knew each one of them!

 I just wish I could've seen Lina's art in the book. I think that would've made the story more amazing!!! Though the descriptions used help my imagination picture the art perfectly in my head. I was shocked to read that the suffering of these people wasn't revealed until 1990~!! WHAT? ? ?? That is nuts to me. I found it very sad when they found out about their dad. That was the one bit of hope they always had in the back of their minds. I believe anyone in a hopeless situation needs something to hold onto even if deep inside they know it is not try and not actually going to happen. The mother keeping clean clothes in her luggage proved that hope kept her strong and kept her going. I think when she found out her husband had died she finally saw how hopeless the situation was. The clean clothes was very sad to read about. I didn't understand why they were taken to the arctic? What was the point of that? Just so they would die?

 I didn't love the ending. I read through 300 pages and then all of a sudden the book stopped. The sun poked out, we find out Lina lives and marries and that is that. I REALLY felt let down by the end. I really was invested in all the characters and wanted to see how their story ended. Meaning I wish I could've seen how they eventually get out of camp. I felt completely let down by the end.

 I recently went to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC and it was done very well. There is a room you walk though that has 1000s of shoes. Dirty old shoes that were found in the concentration camps. They shoes were discarded because they weren't worth anything to the Nazi's. Hair was sold, clothes were sold.. but shoes were worth nothing to the Nazi's. It was so overwhelming. If anyone here goes to DC go to this museum!

As far as the age group for this book I think it is for sure YA. I think in England it is sold as an adult book. People have issues with the sex that Mrs. Arvydas has with the guards.


  1. I love this book. It's so sad that the events in this novel actually happened :( so heartbreaking! Great review...I still need to write mine!

    Confessions of a Readaholic

  2. i've had this book in my list for so long...
    I have to come around to reading it.

  3. Thanks for sharing the link to this with me. You've given me points to think about for my review. :)

  4. What a fabulous, intense novel! This story paints a portrait of
    humanity, in all of its forms, and brings to light some important
    moments in history that are not often discussed. Beautifully told.
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