3 Things About Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

May 10, 2016 Review 28 ★★★★

3 Things About Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Speak
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 352
Release Date: March 22nd 2011
Genres: Europe, Historical, Holocaust, Military & Wars, Prejudice & Racism, Social Issues, Young Adult
It's 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin's extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It's a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”

Boy, did I go into this one unaware. Ruta Sepetys was a familiar name due to the hype surrounding SALT TO THE SEA. When I was at the library the other day I saw BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and decided to pick it up after hearing so much about the book and the author. I didn’t know a single thing about BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, and I think that was what made this book even more special to me.

I barely know how to review it.

Where do I even begin? BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY made me almost every emotion I can think of: rage, horror, sadness, happiness, and everything in between.The book revolves around our heroine, Lina, and her family, but also explores numerous other characters and their experiences, painting a broad and vivid picture of what Stalin and the NKVD did to around twenty million people.

“I planted a seed of hatred in my heart.
I swore it would grow to be a massive tree whose roots would strangle them all.”

You need to read this book, period.

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY tells a story that begs to be read. Although it is fictional, many of the experiences Lina and her family go through are not. I had no idea this event even happened, much less how bad it was. So I began to think about how the events in this book were never mentioned when I was in school and how many people are like me. I wish I could give a copy to everyone.

It prompts thought and discussion.

It isn’t often that you read the last page of a book and finally close the cover that you find yourself wanting to do something. I looked up everything I could find on the Lithuanian Holocaust and Stalin’s reign of terror. I thought I knew WWII history but clearly, I did not. I wanted to learn everything I could about this tragedy and the people whose voices were stifled; even more, I wanted to tell people. I even found myself explaining the event to my mother in the car. This is a book that will stick with me.

“We’d been trying to touch the sky from the bottom of the ocean.
I realized that if we boosted one another, maybe we’d get a little closer.”

Rating Report
Overall: 4

28 Responses to “3 Things About Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys”

  1. Danielle

    Okay, taking this as a sign lol. I’ve had this out of the library since DECEMBER (I keep renewing it, yeah I’m *that* person) and it’s just been sitting on my desk because I didn’t really know much about it other than lots of people love it but now I’m genuinely interested to read it!
    Danielle recently posted…The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

  2. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Even before Salt to the Sea, I’d heard wonderful things about this author and this book actually^^ I still need to familiarize myself but I am so happy that this was such a win for you Alise!! The emotions all sound so real and those kinds of books just NEED to be read. I’m glad you went into this blind and ended up have such success with it :) Lovely review^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Fifth Grave Past the Light

  3. Denise

    This seems like a really important book! I recently read Salt to the Sea for my book club, and I actually didn’t like it. So when I heard this was being turned into a movie, I wasn’t looking forward to it, and I didn’t want to read it. I’m expecting the writing style to be similar too, which was something I didn’t enjoy about STTS? I’m glad you enjoyed this though! WW2 is such a sensitive and important topic, so I’m glad this book explored unknown events, which are just as important, just not as widely spread. Lovely review! ♥
    Denise recently posted…Review: How Hard Can Love Be?

    • Alise

      It so is! I’ve seen quite a few negative/okay reviews for Salt to the Sea so that is not an uncommon opinion! I’ve only glanced at the writing style in Salt to the Sea but this one is much different, IMO. There is only one POV and the chapters are much longer. The writing style in this one is pretty normal. Thanks :)

  4. Sarah J.

    I’m so happy to see that this novel struck you! It’s such an amazing historical novel. I remember how touched my sister and I were after reading this story. It’s such a sad and shocking part of history that is surrounded by so much more tragedy. I’ve always wondered how overwhelmingly evil the world could be at this time because while humans advanced so much in technology the hatred in hearts and minds was just as barbaric as the start of humanity. Great review!
    Sarah J. recently posted…Alice in Wonderland- A Graphic Novel & A Novel

    • Alise

      “Sepetys focuses on well-known times, but not well-known stories or events.” THIS! I so agree, it’s really enlightening.

  5. Romi

    Oh, Alise, this review is truly wonderful. Your passion for this book and what it made you feel and how you want to share it came through so clearly, and that’s really wonderful. I always feel (and feel like I’m always saying, when I read passionate reviews like this) that books that make you feel so much, make you happy and frustrated and angry that not more is known, that make you passionate and want to share, are some of the best books. And I feel like this book acted as a stepping stone, of sorts, because it sent you looking for more. I just read a little on the subject and it’s awful that we both missed out on learning about it in detail- although I’m glad you’ve found out, now.

    I actually had this book on my tbr for a long while, before removing it mid-last year after a failed attempt. I know I have her latest novel on my tbr, though, and if that goes well I’ll definitely remember to check this one out again. You’ve chosen to highlight some really gorgeous quotes, and my interest is definitely piqued. xx
    Romi recently posted…Books for when you’re… (21)

    • Alise

      Ahhhh! Thank you so much :D I’m so glad! I was worried because this review took me forever to write and I wanted to try to persuade people the best I could xD Very true!

      Yay, that’s great! Thanks :)

  6. Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    I completely agree with you 110% Alise. This is such a beautifully written and powerful book, and it touches upon some historical events that we don’t think very much about. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! ♥
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…A Little in Love

    • Alise

      It did, this is one I will probably remember for a long time to come, and I wish the event was more well known! Sure :)

  7. Terri M.

    It was unfortunate that this novel was released during the height of the 50 Shades of Grey hype. It got buried and people confused this novel with 50 Shades.

    I did enjoy this one, but I didn’t feel it packed the emotional punch of other WWII novels I have read. However, it does share an important part of history during that timeframe that is often not taught in school.
    Terri M. recently posted…8 Powerful Books You Should Read to Remember Yom Hashoah

    • Alise

      I was wondering about that, because I do recall that happened.

      I’ve read other WWII books specifically about the Holocaust but this was my first on this topic, which was completely new to me.

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