[REVIEW] Between Shades of Gray

Series: N/A
Ruta Sepetys
young adult, historical fiction, war
April 3, 2012 (first published March 22, 2011)
Between Shades of Gray
Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch. 
Lithuania, June 1941: Fifteen-year-old Lina was preparing for art school and looking forward to summer. In the dark of night here is a knock at the door and life is forever changed. Soviet secret police arrest Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, tearing their family apart. The three are hauled from their home and thrown into cattle cars, where they soon discover their destination: Siberia. Separated from her father, Lina embeds clues in her drawings and secretly passes them along, hoping they will reach her father’s prison camp. In this dramatic and moving story, Lina desperately fights for her life and the lives of those around her. But will love be enough to keep her alive?

*             *             *
The bald man’s question kept me awake in thought. Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?
*             *             *

Between Shades of Gray is a story of survival. It’s a story of believing, of being strong. It’s a realistic historical fiction that gives us a view of what happened to Lithuania during World War II while Joseph Stalin holds the USSR.

Between Shades of Gray is instantly my favorite historical fiction. It captured me right at the beginning. Lina’s voice is very beautiful. She tells her story in such a way that is very realistic – she talks about her experiences as well as the people she met, her questions, her hopes, her worries. There was also room for the discovery of the reason why their family was chosen to be sent away through the flashbacks.

The way Lina narrates the story allows you to easily imagine their situation. The imageries are beautiful, well said, and simple. Sympathizing with the characters became very easy. I fell in love with every prominent character in the story – their struggles, their backgrounds, the voicing of their thoughts, their development, and their actions at the end.

The story absolutely moved me. I cried quite a few times. It was a lovely heartbreaking story that is full of hopes and staying strong – the hope that Lina’s mother held until the end, Lina’s dreams and motivations to live on…

Between Shades of Gray also involved a sweet romance between Lina and Andrius. It was one of the things I really love reading throughout the story – it made me smile; it made me tear up. I cheered for the two of them to be together until the end.

*             *             *

What I Like: (1) the imageries, descriptions, (2) Lina, her family, Andrius, and the rest of the characters, (3) the development of the characters, (4) the flashbacks, (5) the emotions this novel contains, (6) how it truly moved me, (7) how it informed me of this historical event in Lithuania (which is something totally missed in World History lessons), (8) how it was told

What I Don’t Like: N/A

beautifully written realistic historical fiction + characters that feel so alive = MUST READ!

(the 69 Test || Book Teaser!)

“They’re soldiers,” reporter Mother, elated. “They’re going to the front. There is war between Germany and the USSR. The Germany has moved into Lithuania,” she shouted. “Did you hear me? The Germans are in Lithuania!” 
Morale soared. Andrius and Jonas shouted and whooped. Miss Grybas began to sing “Take Me Back to My Homeland.” People hugged one another and cheered.

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