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
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
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.
I will not purchase another audiobook with this narrator. It sounded like she was smiling while describing atrocities. I gave it a good 2 hours, can't finish. Book seems decent, wouldn't hesitate to read.
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.
Middle school librarian, reading teacher, runner, nature-lover, mom to two little girls, lover of modernism and the Jazz Age
I valued learning about this part of history that most of us know next to nothing about. It's an important story to be told.
I do not want to give anything away, so I will just say the discovery of the large owl and the events that followed.
My beef with this production has everything to do with the narrator. The narrator would be perfectly fine reading a book set in a happy-go-lucky suburb of America, centered around the ups and downs of a pampered teenager. The tone is whiny and emotionally shallow. She was most definitely the wrong pick to narrate this story. She described the horrors experienced by Lithuanians and others like she was describing a failed shopping trip to the mall. Her narration seriously detracted from the impact, weight, and believability of the story. I nearly gave up on it within the first hour or two. The only thing that kept me going was my desire to learn more about this aspect of history and the fact that this is an upcoming book club selection, and I didn't have time to sit and read the book (which would have been far preferable in this case).
The book made me very sad but also reflective in a healthy way of all that we take for granted in terms of freedom, happiness, and health. The things we complain about are so trivial when you learn about the way others have and do suffer -- and still manage to love and survive with a grace.
Read the book rather than listening to the narration.
A book can get you out of your house, your town, even out of the country. I'm an avid reader believing reviews help find the good ones.
I hesitated to read this book because of the subject matter, but this is not the typical Holocaust story. Its the story of a Lithuanian family exile to Sibera by Stalin. The story is told by Lina a fifteen year old girl.
I connected to this emotionally it reminded me a bit of The Diary of Anne Frank. Although the story was heartbreaking it was exceptionally written. There was a nice balance between sorrow, survival and bravery. Its a very gritty story of a time in history I wasn't even aware of.
Great reader/voice very easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Once I started I couldnt put it down. So glad I found this book, its going on my favorite list.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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