Between Shades of Gray

Sometimes a book comes along that has something special to it.  That spark or element that makes you fall in love with it and hope that it never ends.  Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray was one of those books for me.  I randomly picked this book up at Wal-Mart (it was cheap and sounded good) and I'm so glad that I did because I don't know if I'd have picked it up anywhere else...or even remembered that I read the back of it. 

Gray follows the story of Lina and her family as they try to survive the terrible effects of WWII; including deportation, harrowing traveling experiences, Soviet labor camps, Siberia and the Arctic Cirlce, cruel winters, and even crueler captors.  What ensues is one girl's struggle to survive despite all odds.  Through all of this, she is able to take solace in her art; the one thing that her captors cannot take from her.  With her art, Lina is able to document the atrocities that befall her and her fellow captives at the hands of the Soviets, the passing of time, and other milestones that happen to her and her makeshift family.  Despite the dangers and possible punishments that her continued drawing might provoke, Lina remains steadfast in her documentation in hopes that some of her work will find its way to the prisoners of war camp where her father is being held.

Gray covers several thousand miles and a multiple number of years in Lina's life.  Each is important and each strenthens Lina's resolve to survive.  Yes, there are heartbreaking losses that she suffers; it wouldn't have been as believable if these losses didn't occur.  Sepetys does a beautiful job of portraying how this often overlooked portion of captives (Lithuanians) suffered at the hands of the Soviets.  She delves into the psyche and completely fleshes out her characters.  It's a wonderful book that I could not recommend more.


  1. Hmm... it's hard for me to square the fact that it sounds so bleak, and can also be wonderful. I may have to grab the free sample of it on Kindle and give it a chance to hook me.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    Dave the Goof

    1. Dave, while the content is rather depressing (to be expected), the story is quite wonderful. Hard to imagine, but true :)

  2. This was one of my favorite books from last year. You are so right about everything you said!

  3. this does sound really good--thanks!


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