Meet your next favorite book. I listened to the audio and I never wanted to stop listening. I wished for more when I got to the end. Everyone needs to read this story. I loved it!
Between Shades of Gray is the story of Lina, a 15 year old Lithuanian girl, who is taken captive with her mother and younger brother and shipped off to a Siberian labor camp during World War II.
First things first. This is a good book. But my misfortune was that I read it AFTER I had read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and while these books both take place in World War II Europe, that’s really where their similarities end. Whether or not I felt more connected to The Book Thief because I was more aware of the tragedies in Germany rather than Lithuania, I don’t know. But this book just didn’t touch me in the same heartfelt way that The Book Thief did. And perhaps I can blame this on the rather grating voice actor chosen for Between Shades of Gray. It took all I had to get through the last 45 minutes of this audiobook. I found most of the characters to be extremely whiny; their voices like nails on a chalkboard. They didn’t seem to have the strength of Liesel or Max. Yes, I know these people were in labor camps but I didn’t feel their vigor or uncoquerable-ness (yes, I think I just made that word up).
And the ending just seemed rather un-realistic.
I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy this book; it’s just that it was only an alright read for me. Do I think I would have liked it more if I read it before The Book Thief? Yeah, probably but what can you do, ya know?
Tragic historical account.
Several books written about the Holocaust come to mind...
I wouldn't say "favorite" is the right word; possibly, moving or blatently honest would be more correct. There were too many scenes of that caliber, but I might say the scene in Siberia where the Russian officer comes to their aid, is one of them.
See last comment.
This book should be required high school reading, or college, at the very least! Why hasn't Oprah reviewed this one!!???
What a great listen/read. Can't recommend this enough. A gripping story...that will make you a bit smarter about a VERY important period of history too. This book will make you ask yourself: would I have survived? would I have loved, hoped, and fought as they did?
Can't wait for more from this author, what an amazing first book and an important story to share with us all.
Ruta really was able to capture feelings moods and situations in this book. I loved so much of what she wrote. I would've liked a little more transition between the present and the future synopsis at the end. But that said...I did like how it ended.
The eye opening details.
I didn't particularly enjoy all the voices the narrator did. Some were odd.
This is a first book by this author, but she has started with a complete gem of a book! In my opinion, this book should be added to everyone's reading list along with "The Diary of Ann Frank" ! Think Ann Frank and the movie, "Life is Beautiful", because this story is full of the inhuman horrors that one group of people inflect onto another group of people----BUT, it is also a story of hope and survival through people loving and keeping others alive through love and sacrifice.
Although this is a fictional 15 year old narrator, Sepetys has created this girl from extensive research of Stalin's Soviet invasion of Lithuania. Millions of people were taken from their homes to be killed or transported to work camps in Russian outposts. In Sepety's story, Lina , her mother, and her 10 year old brother, survive a six week cattle car trip to a work post, just to be transported via barge to an Soviet outpost in the Arctic. Lina uses her artistic talent to draw pictures of all that happens along the way. She also writes letters telling the "truth" of all that happens.
Though this book may sound very depressing, the real feelings evoked are love, hope and survival through giving and sacrifice for others. We also learn a great deal of how Stalin killed or caused the deaths of more than 20 million people. Those who are survivors or relatives of survivors will never forget those attrosities---nor should others were not involved. Though the biggest thing that one may get from this book is that we ARE all involved if we choose to call ourselves human beings in this world!
Captivating, Moving, Heart-throbbing
the little brother
I listened to this book at the gym to keep me working out longer.
Gripping, revealatory, thoughtchanger!
The main young lady
Such a great speaker
Seeing their fathers face looking up at them from under the train, the forgotten loaf of bread, so many others...
I feel like it was me that lived through it....I'd listen on my 35 minute commute everyday, sat in the car at lunch, at home, in the coffee shop and when it was over-THEN I could take a breath.....
Wow...this is a difficult review to write because this was such an incredible, emotionally powerful story, I’m having a hard time finding the right words. I do want to say that Emily Klein did an OUTSTANDING job narrating this audio. I’m so glad that I chose to download the audio from Audible. Emily Klein’s narration was such that it immediately pulled me into the story and I felt like I was listening to Lina as she recounted what happened to her and her family. I also especially enjoyed listening to the author explain, at the end of the audio, a bit about the history behind this story and her inspiration for writing this book. I was completely clueless about this part of history but it’s certainly a story that needs to be told.
Between Shades of Gray tells a fictional story based around historical events that I am ashamed to say I was not aware of. During the time that Hitler was in power, he made a pact of non-aggression with Stalin in Russia which ceded several countries including Lithuania to Stalin. Stalin began arresting everyone who he believed may have anti-soviet leanings, men, women and children. Between Shades of Gray begins with Lina and her family being dragged from their home at gunpoint without explanation, loaded onto trains and shipped off. They had no idea where they were headed, all they knew was that there were hundreds of others in the same situation as they were, shoved like animals in a cattle cart on a train far away from everything they know. Lina tells about the journey, the struggles, the atrocities, and the kindnesses they found in the most unexpected places along the way.
It was those unexpected kindnesses and the moments of compassion and quiet strength that the author highlighted so beautifully that it left me a sobbing mess several times. The needless cruelties of some of the guards were in some ways shocking, but in some ways expected, because, far too often, its people that enjoy causing others’ misery that usually seek out these positions of power. One of the things that the author was able to convey was that, it is in the most dire circumstances that the truth of a person’s character becomes known. I think that some people would be surprised at some of the cruel things they may be willing to do to each other for the sake of their family’s and their own survival, just as I think they would be surprised at what they would be willing to risk in order to help a stranger. It’s amazing how far the human spirit can bend without ever being broken, and even then come back from such a unimaginably horrific ordeal and somehow be stronger and wiser and still have the capacity for love and compassion. Between Shades of Gray contains layer upon layer of truths about human nature, about love, about hope, and about determination intertwined into this heartfelt story that on the surface seems so hopeless and sad. The fact that the survivors of this had the foresight to bury the photos and letters and records of this time period so that their story could one day be told just astounds me.
I think that Between Shades of Gray is such an important story for a few reasons. First, to acknowledge what happened to the millions of Lithuanian people who died in these prisons and camp and those who survived to tell the story. Also, to be aware of the things a corrupt system is capable of. I recommend Between Shades of Gray to everyone.