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Between Shades of Gray | [Ruta Sepetys]

Between Shades of Gray

Lina is just like any other 15-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.
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Publisher's Summary

A powerful and haunting debut novel about a little-known slice of history.

Lina is just like any other 15-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.

©2011 Ruta Sepetys (P)2011 Penguin Audio

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Average Customer Rating

4.3 (149 )
5 star
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4.2 (124 )
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  •  
    FanB14 Rockville, VA, United States 03-27-13
    FanB14 Rockville, VA, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2011

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3974
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    Story
    "Sunlight Through the Cracks"

    Lina is a 15 year old Lithunian girl who is transported with her family and other intellectuals like cattle on a train to Siberia. The beginning starts like many of the heart-wrenching novels about the atrocities of Hitler during WWII, however, veers on a diferent course of the untold horrors of what happened when Stalin's Russia marched in. Lina and family fight to stay alive in the biting cold, working on a beet farm berated by soldiers and treated like trash.

    Despite the unbearable conditions, Lina finds strength and draws and documents the events and details of their condition in secret; manages to make a friend in Andress; and fights each day to save her family and persevere. This is a tale of the determination of the human spirit as told through the eyes of a young girl.

    Ruta Sepetys delved into her own Lithuanian roots and discovered much of what she uses in this work of historical fiction. Truly breathtaking and frighteningly real, this novel transcends the bounds of your typical YA novel. Just when you thought you knew everything about 1941, a story like this sweeps in to shed light on another untold tale. Be sure to keep listening to the prologue and interview with the author; simply amazing.

    20 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue St. Louis 03-20-13
    Sue St. Louis 03-20-13 Member Since 2009

    Sue

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Moving, but painful story"

    Historical fiction that is sad, but well worth the listen. An engrossing story and good writing make this book very good, even though the story is serious and sad.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Holladay, UT, United States 02-06-13
    Jill Holladay, UT, United States 02-06-13 Member Since 2013
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    Story
    "A story that needs to be told"
    If you could sum up Between Shades of Gray in three words, what would they be?

    This is a great story told in first person of a teen Lithuanian. Her family was subjected to Stalin's government brutality of other nations' people during WWII.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Between Shades of Gray?

    The most memorable moment for me was when Lena and her family were sent to the Arctic to work for the NKDV.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Waunakee, WI, United States 09-10-12
    David Waunakee, WI, United States 09-10-12
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    "Great historical fiction story"
    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This is a wonderful story about World War II that hasn't been told before. This is a story about family, friendship and love in extreme conditions. The piece that was most emotional was listening to the author state her "author's note" at the end of the book. It is obvious that this story is very close to her heart.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stacey Lisbon, NY, United States 06-27-12
    Stacey Lisbon, NY, United States 06-27-12 Member Since 2010
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    26
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    Story
    "A different perspective"

    I found this to be a wonderful young adult story. It brings to light a part of this time of history that most people are not aware. Everyone knew that there were bad things happening in Europe with Hitler as that tends to be the focal point of history, but there were similar things happening in other countries as well. I felt that the narrator connected with the story, I really felt she was the character and not just reading me the story.

    I would recommend this one!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Avon, CT, United States 12-27-11
    Pamela Avon, CT, United States 12-27-11 Member Since 2011

    Pam

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How did they possibly survive ?"

    I great book about surving the death camps during WWII. The book is told by one person who is taken from her home with her family and sent to a death camp in Siberia. It is an amazing book that tell the story of love surviving in impossible conditions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linas Brentwood, TN, United States 05-31-11
    Linas Brentwood, TN, United States 05-31-11 Member Since 2000
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    "Riveting and Authentic"

    I was hooked on the character of Lina and her story from the first moment. So much of what the author wrote resonated with my own Lithuanian family’s history. In fact, the book somehow made that history more real—probably because the author colored in real historical details that I’d never asked about or even imagined.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sash & Em: A Tale of Two Bookies United States 08-17-12
    Sash & Em: A Tale of Two Bookies United States 08-17-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very sad read"

    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?

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrissy ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 11-25-12
    Chrissy ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 11-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "a great read for adults and young adults alike"

    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.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Spanish Fork, UT, United States 10-29-12
    Julie Spanish Fork, UT, United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great story, great book."
    What did you love best about Between Shades of Gray?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The eye opening details.


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't particularly enjoy all the voices the narrator did. Some were odd.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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