Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Details: Hardcover, 338 pgs.
Published: March 22nd, 2011 by Philomel Books (Penguin)

isbn: 0399254129 (ISBN13: 9780399254123)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

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.

Wow.  Okay, I’m not sure where to start.  This book was so amazing that finding the words is rather difficult.  I have to say that in the description it says: 
Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart. 

That says it so well.  I finished the book yesterday and when I think back I find myself with tears in my eyes and a catch in my throat.  This isn’t just another World War II book.  This isn’t about Hitler and his rein of terror, but it’s just as horrific.  And this is stuff that we didn’t learn about in school (at least most schools).  This is the untold story of some of the horrific things that Stalin did.  And I think knowing that this is not a terribly well known thing made the story touch me even more.  Knowing that those people went through all that and then the ones that survived couldn’t even tell the world of the horrors they suffered.  

This book was full of pain and heartache and suffering, but it was full of incredible strength and determination.  Of bravery, and love and compassion.  This book had it all.  It even had romance, though it didn’t get much of a chance to play out, we felt it and saw it and knew how they felt about each other.

The first half of the book was excellent but it was the second half that really got to me.  That really had me crying.  Especially toward the end.  I can’t even imagine!  The things these people went through, it’s really  stuff of our nightmares.  And it really happened!

I could probably go on, but really all you need to know is this~ get this book, and read it!

Find the author on her:
Do you still need convinced?  Please, please, PLEASE watch this video.  Grab some some kleenex first though.


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  1. First glance, I loved the cover. Then when I read synopsis, I decided to put in my TBR and posted in my Waiting on Wednesday post.

    But when I saw the trailer, I said to myself, I have to read this book. I hope this month I can grab it.

    It’s nice to know that you like this book. I hope I will enjoy it as well when the book is on my hand

  2. I visited a Holocaust museum in England years ago and it hit me hard. Seeing how badly people suffered made me want to cry. I have a feeling that when I read Between Shades of Gray, all those images will come back to me full force.

    I will be getting this book soon. Great review Candace :)

  3. Oh gosh, I have GOT to get this book. I don’t think I’ve read a single comment or review about it so far where the reader hasn’t cried while reading. It sounds incredibly well written and emotional, great review!

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