Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142420591
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 8,087
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: HL490L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ruta Sepetys ( is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a "crossover" novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of GrayOut of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1:

Excerpted from "Between Shades of Gray"
by .
Copyright © 2012 Ruta Sepetys.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Between Shades of Gray 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 485 reviews.
IceyBooks More than 1 year ago
When I flipped over the last page of Between Shades of Gray, all I could say was "WOW". Everything about Ruta Sepetys's YA debut was heartwrenching and, at the same time, beautiful. There were times when I would smile, but tears would threaten to spill at the same moment. Throughout the story, I kept thinking back to Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl. But Between Shades of Gray stands out. The story of Anne Frank and all the hundreds of thousands of Jews prosecuted during the Nazi regime is well-known throughout history. The people from the small countries of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and other countries suffered almost the same way. Sure, they weren't gassed and thrown in concentration camps for the whole world to know. But that's what made it so horrible. The whole world didn't know. I don't usually re-read books, but so many things happened in Between Shades of Gray that I want to relive to remind myself that the cold winters we face in our warm houses are nothing, compared to what Lina and her people faced. To remind myself that when there isn't enough salt in my lunch, I shouldn't complain. I recommend Between Shades of Gray to anyone who has read Anne Frank's diary and felt something for her. And if you haven't read her diary, you should still pick this book up. The efforts Ruta Sepetys put in for researching and compiling such a powerful historical fiction debut have not gone in vain. Pick up a copy of Between Shades of Gray when it debuts in March and relive the events of Stalin's Reign of Terror through a whole new perspective - the eyes of fifteen year old Lina Vilkas. To me, the cover suggests the heart-wrenching sorrow to follow. It's beautiful, sad, and suggests hope at the same time!
retromom More than 1 year ago
When I started to read the outstanding reviews for this book I knew I had to read it. This was a part of history I had never heard of. Stalin had anyone who he thought was anti-communist deported and hauled off to Siberia where they endured some horrible conditions. Some of those deported were lawyers, teachers, bankers..just every day people living their lives. The story is told by Lina, a 15 year old Lithuanian girl. The year is 1941 when the NKVD or Secret Police stormed into Lina's childhood home and rounded up Lina Vilkas, her brother Jonas, and her mother Elena. Her father was feared to have been arrested and taken to prison. They were led away in cattle cars and taken to a prison camp. Conditions there were extremely harsh. Eventually they are taken to basically a piece of land north of the Arctic Circle where conditions were unfit for animals let alone humans. The group of captives had to band together and become family to survive. Lina, being an artist kept track of their captivity by drawing pictures. I could feel Lina's hope throughout the story and found myself amazed at her will to survive. I'm not sure I could be as strong or as brave as she. The book is beautifully written. The subject matter can be uncomfortable at times but I think it is an important part of history that must be told. At one point the family is almost separated and Lina's brother is bought back by giving up a family pocket watch. When I read that I couldn't stop the tears. To think this went on and the world had no clue it was happening was just shocking to me. Why hadn't I been taught about this in school? I would like to thank Ruta Sepetys for opening our eyes and our hearts to this story. The story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. If you read only one book this year, let it be this book. It is an emotional but an important read. This is a book that will stick with me forever.
CyndiANC More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read in a while. So sad and heartwrenching throughout but I couldn't wait to finish it to see what happened to them all. Thanks for the last chapter, I needed to know.........
pagese More than 1 year ago
I must have had a great history teacher in high school because this subject is suppose to be buried and not very well known. But I remember learning about the atrocious acts against his own people that Stalin commited during World War II. All of these while an ally of of the US, Great Britain, etc. But then Russian history in the 20th century is bloody and cruel. I think anyone who thought otherwise was kidding themselves. I held my breathe the day the NKVD came into Lina's house and took her family. It's one of those things that you know what's coming and you can't help but feel that panic and confusion that Lina and her family must have felt. These people were treated in the same manner that the Jews were by Hitler. Only the world wasn't watching in horror. They were loaded on to trains like cattle with little food and water. They died from diseases that could have been prevented or cured. They were forced thousands of miles from their homes all because Stalin had labeled them political prisoners, or accused them of crimes they had never committed. They were forced to work long and hard hours for the little amount of food they were given and nothing more. They had to beg and steal from the soldiers and guards watching them just to survive. It was horrible reading about it. I'm surprised I didn't cry throughout this book. But, I think it's because I've learned throughout history that the human race is not always kind to it's fellow man. It's something that should not be forgotten, but sadly I'm sure history at some point will repeat itself. The way ray of light throughout this story is Lina herself. She never gives up hope. She's surprisingly resilient for a 15-year-old girl. She continues to try and send letters and pictures to her father in the hopes that one day they will be reunited. She stands her ground and doesn't lose herself or her principles in her struggle to just survive. And through it all she finds love. I really wanted to give this 5 stars, and the story itself is a must read. But, I didn't really like the ending. I knew it wouldn't have happy one, because really how could it. But then ending gave you the hope that things were going to be better, that they were saved. And yet, you know that Lena and her family don't go home for many more years after that by the epilogue. Were things better after that fateful arrival or was it many more years of the same?
Lawral More than 1 year ago
Clearly, this book is not a pick-me-up, but the spirit of endurance that Lina, her family, and her friends exhibit is inspiring. Between Shades of Gray tracks the slow progress of Lina, her brother Jonas, and their mother Elena from their home in Lithuania to a work camp in Trofimovsk in the Arctic Circle. They suffer many indignities (to put it mildly) at the hands of their Soviet captors (so many and so much that I stopped marking them in my copy). The beginning of the book, especially, is very similar to the beginnings of many other stories about this time in Europe. The lists, the beatings, the cattle cars. I could go on and on about how the Vilkas and their group suffer. I could draw many parallels between their experience and those of Holocaust survivors. I could talk about how, at times, the weight of what they go through is crushing, but I don't want to. I want to talk about the points of light in this book that made the rest of it bearable (and when I say bearable, I mean in terms of the subject matter. The whole book is beautifully and compellingly written). Lina's memories of her father and of her cousin Joanna certainly help her through her trials, as does her art which she continues, and uses to her advantage in many ways, throughout the book. A sweet, little romance doesn't hurt either. But what really makes the work camps tolerable is what the deportees do for each other. Between Shades of Gray is an important book about a not-often-talked about event in history. For this reason, it will appeal to historical fiction lovers, and WWII aficionados. It's also an emotional read, with dashes of suspense and romance mixed into Lina's experience of oppression and, ultimately, loss. I highly recommend this powerful debut and look forward to whatever Sepetys has in store for us next! Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was truly beautiful. This story really moved me. It really showed the world what really happened when Joseph Stalin took reign. I will defintely read this book again and again. I would defintely recommend this book if you like history, but even if you don't, I think it would be a good read. This book inspires people to get back up when someone knocks you down. This book was amazing.
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
Incorporating true accounts and experiences from survivors, this fiction novel follows one girl, fifteen-year-old Lina, and her mother and younger brother through the aftermath of the Non-Agression Pact and Stalin's plans. It's a frightening story. With the NKVD guard watching, the transported Lithuanians were sentenced to work on a kolkhoz, a working farm, and sentenced for ten years and longer. Farming for beets, digging holes, and only rationed 300 grams of bread per day, Lina and her family struggled to survive. There is no medicine and no warmth during the cold Russian winters at their gulag. Prisoners are starved, humiliated, and die. Lina's artwork was always startlingly realistic for her age. As several prisoners did based on true accounts that Sepetys gathered during her research, they documented tragedies through writing, drawing, and wood carvings. Throughout Lina's "sentence" in the camps, she tries to draw as much as she can, atrocities forever etched on the scraps of paper she can find. Fearful for what may happen, though, should they be caught, this evidence was destroyed or buried in the ground and never spoken about. Even after they were released years later, survivors were still afraid of being charged with another crime and returning back to the prisons, so they kept their stories buried. This is probably one of the best Young Adult books I've ever read. It's an intense and tough subject matter of unspoken history, and the writing is both vividly descriptive and heart-wrenching, but also maintains the authenticity that this is told from a teenager's point of view. Sections that struck me the hardest at times were those that recognized that even in the depths of sadness, there were moments of hope and love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved the plot and the different kind of character's. The only problem with it is after all that detail throughout the book, at the end it kind of just drops off a cliff (ended so suddenly with no detail).
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
What I liked the most about this book is although it focuses on World War II, it's from a different perspective than what most readers are used to when reading something from this particular era in history. I think that although learning and reading about the Holocaust is important, let's not forget other tragic incidents that also happened during this time frame as those victims should not be forgotten as well. Personally, I have not found many fictional accounts concerning this time frame (and geared towards younger readers) and I am hoping Between Shades of Gray will be the one that will open the doors to a lot of readers on this particular subject. For one thing, it's good to know and good to let others be aware of this moment in history. Also, it's good because it sets the stage for other writers to write about this subject. This book has the most beautiful writing I have ever read so far. It's beautiful, yet at the same time, it's sad and the sense of loneliness, isolation, and helplessness is felt all throughout the book. It certainly does feel as if Lina and all the rest of the prisoners have indeed been forgotten by the world - considering they're placed in a camp in literally what looks to be in the middle of nowhere. What's ironic is they're labeled as thieves and prostitutes, and some of the prisoners have actually become that way as a means of survival. Lina and her mother are major beacons of hope throughout the story and it's through their unbelievable strength that they attempt to survive through this ordeal. What I also liked about the book is the several flashbacks Lina has, to contrast between how she lived before she gets taken and arrested. They almost seem trivial compared to what she goes through in the camp. When Lina finds love in the camp, it's what propels her to survive through this moment in her life. I thought Lina's relationship with Andrius was the main reason why she kept hanging on. Although she had plenty of courage to show, she needed something else to cling on so she won't lose hope. It's a bleak story, and gets worse later as the book progresses. The writing in this novel is excellent and makes the reader feel what Lina feels, the detail in the setting and atmosphere is well done and also adds to the feeling of the book. It's not until literally, the last few pages of the book where Lina's outcome is revealed, and leaves the reader with the feeling of hope, however with a melancholy feeling to it as well. One of the best books I've read so far this year, I greatly recommend reading this. The writing is beautiful, and the story although tragic, focuses on Lina's strength to survive and shows how courageous and hopeful one can be while enduring awful horrible events such as the one Lina went through herself.It's definitely not a subject for everyone to read, however it's not one to forget either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a real attention grabber! Its a must-have in every nook!!! I say this book is the best ever written. Yes, people say that there is little romance, and i agree. But the little romance makes you hang on. This book is amazingly written! I bought it at barnes and noble and on my nook. Though i am only 12, i would say this is a great read and it is perfect for ages 12 and up. ( i wouldnt let young children read it though, some scenes are disgusting)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look, its amazing! I feel in love with the characters instenly it truely changed me. Im only 12 years old and i love it. I am a huge reader and have read every type of book i dont just love history and i was so mistifyed by this i just stared at the cover when i was done! I say buy it give history a chance. It has romance, history, mystery,art, and a struggle of a teenage girl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very very very good(: i enjoyed it alot but the ending was kind of abrupt. I just wish i could hav learned more about her life getting back home and stuff like that, but other than that i loved it and i couldnt put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book! I could not stop reading it, so well written and wow interesting! The characterization is wonderful; you really know each one. How can any person have such talent and creativity?---oh yes, it is a gift from the Lord Jesus Christ!
Maggzees More than 1 year ago
Amazing! I read this at least three times because I myself come from Latvian and Lithuanian decent! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
On June 14, 1941 Lina Viklas is taken by the Soviet secret police. Along with her mother and her younger brother, Jonas, Lina is forced to leave her home in the middle of the night to board a train to be deported from Lithuania with thousands like her. As they are taken farther and farther from Lithuania, all hope seems lost. Lina's father has been separated from the family to be sent to a prison camp. Lina's dreams of one day attending art school or falling in love are dashed. With nothing but the clothes on their back and a few precious possessions, how can they survive? Will help ever come? Refusing to lose her sense of self along with everything else, Lina clings to what she does have: her memories and her art. While dreaming of her past, Lina uses her talents to document the atrocities she and the other deportees are forced to endure. Lina may be far from everything she once knew, but she will survive. Any other options are too horrible in Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Between Shades of Gray is Sepetys' first novel. It was also a finalist in the 2011 Cybils for Young Adult Fiction which is how I came to read it. Since its publication Between Shades of Gray has garnered a fair amount of accolades and even critical acclaim in the form of a finalist spot for the 2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award. Sepetys, herself a daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, brings light to one of history's darker (not to mention lesser known) moments when the nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia disappeared from maps in 1941 as thousands were deported and sent to labor camps and prisons. These countries did not reappear until 1990. Because of its content and its deft negotiation of this bleak subject matter, there is no doubt that Between Shades of Gray is an important, valuable book. It will undoubtedly be added to many history class curiculums and will raise awareness about Stalin's cleansing of the Baltic region. Unfortunately, being an important book does not make Between Shades of Gray a book without its flaws. Both the story and its narrator, Lina, are difficult to connect with. The story has a linear narrative of Lina's journey with the other deportees interspersed with flashbacks and memories of Lina's old life in Lithuania. While the memories illustrate all that Lina has lost, they also appear abruptly and at little to the plot's forward momentum. The ending is similarly abrupt not only having a a fifty-four year gap between the last chapter and the epilogue but also a gaping hole in terms of what happened to many of the characters. Although Lina becomes a strong character as the story progresses, she spends much of the novel as a petulant girl who enjoys rash behavior and jumping to conclusions with little to no evidence to support any of her seemingly random assumptions. So much emphasis is placed on Lina's art but the book as a whole provides very little payoff in that department. Granted, Between Shades of Gray isn't that type of book but I can't help but wish that readers had been able to see Lina's actual drawings after hearing so much about them.* If any book could have benefited from illustrations to add another dimension to the story, it's this one.** Between Shades of Gray is already a beloved book for a lot of readers. It will likely reach many more. The story and the characters are brimming with a potential that, in a lot of ways, was not fully realized.
HeyItsMel More than 1 year ago
My friend gave me this book and said "You won't want to put it down." She was right. I loved reading about the hardships she went through and readig about her falling in love. I will admit I was dissapointed in how it ended. But all in all it was a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book i recomend it to everyone. It made me cry a couple times but other wise it is such a good book. I thought it was going to be a bad book but after i finished the first page i coulfnt put it down. When i got to the last page all i could say is WOW!!! This is the best book i have ever read. I recomend it to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Baltic states have a story to tell and this book tells it beautifully. There are histories that we will never know about, but thank goodness this account is not one of them. I don't want to give anything away, but I do have to mention that the style of writing in this book is my that I mean short chapters. I can read more in one sitting when a book is broken up in this way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Ruta does a great job of describing the hortors of WWII. We usually just think of what the nazis and Hitler did but we should remember that the Soviets were just as bad...i am not saying anything against present day Germany or Russia, though. But i do not agree with what the did. This is a great book that i would reccomend to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing. I loved it so much. This is book for just about anyone, It made me cry and I have cried becuase of a book in a long long time. So happy there was that last chapter i would have gone mad wondering what happened to everyone. If you read this book you will not regret it.
Marion064 More than 1 year ago
A part of history I never knew. This made cry for these poor people. I truly am changed by this book. Be greatful for everyday. We are so lucky. I would love this book to made into a movie. I would also love for school children to read this. It is so worth their time. I think it will change you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book changed the way i look at life and it made me think of things that are important to me that i take for granted. This book is one of the best books i've read in a really long time and i read a lot of books... If your looking for a book that u wont be able to put down until you've finished it then get this one. I stayed up reading it all night because i couldnt stop. It's really good so get it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm 16 years old and my father got me this book. Instantly I fell in love with the characters and plot and ended up finishing it in two days. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys books that incorporate real experiences or just wants a good read. Theres a video clip and even though its long, you should watch it;I assure you that it is worthwhile. I am glad that I read this because otherwise I wouldn't have known what happened to Lithuania.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
between shades of gray, by Ruta Sepetys was a fantastic book. I am not much of a reader and this book kept me interested through the whole story. With the author writing about her family history I felt like that gave the story more depth. I could feel the emotional side come out and it made me cry multiple times. I love to read historical fiction and Sepetys made it an easy read. I would pick this book up and read it again. The imagery makes you feel like your right there experiencing the same things the characters are. I developed a connection with all of the characters as I read about their journey through the Holocaust. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy reading historical fiction.
mazerunnerrocks More than 1 year ago
Look i understand if u dont lik history books but u HAV to read this. Im a teenager and it still kept me reading for hours wanting to know what happened next. AMAZING!