Monday, May 28, 2012

Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, 2011. 344 pages. Published by Philomel. Source: Library.

"Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch."

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.
     Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they 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, 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?
       Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.
First Sentence:
They took me in my nightgown.
Between Shades of Gray was one book that was not necessarily one that was on my list of books to be read, but when I picked it up and read the synopsis I had to know how the story was going to end for Lina and her family.

Between Shades of Gray is one book that I've had to think on beforehe words to write up my thoughts on it. It is just such a powerful and emotional read that there really are not any words that could do it justice. Ms. Sepetys ability to bring the time and conditions that Lina and her family faced while living in the prison camps is absolutely vivid. Her descriptions hold nothing back, but yet keep the story focused on what is important. Maintaining hope and faith.

One of the things that also stuck me while reading was Lina's voice. Her anger over what has happened and her struggle to survive while holding onto the hopw that she and her family will one day return home and be reunited with her father. Lina'a coice was one of the things that I just cut of my head after finish the book, that and the setting. This is one book that I would definitely recommend to all for because it is just so well written and even kind of haunting.

While Between Shades of Gray is a relatively violent book-based on a violent time-Ms. Sepetys handles it in a way that keeps your eye on the plight of the characters and their struggle for survival. I was extremely impressed with how she was able to walk the fine line between the two the harshness of the world that Lina finds herself living in, and the hope that keep them going.
Other than the fact that Between Shades of Gray is an extremely sad book dealing with the harsh treatment and conditions that those displaced by the Soviets (and Germans) during WWII, it is one that I can find no fault with. Ms. Sepetys just does one amazing job of bringing the setting and emotions that the characters experienced to life.
Content (will contain spoilers; highlight to see):
Between Shades of Gray is not the easiest book to read because Ms. Sepetys does not pull any punches when it comes to portraying the the brutality that goes on in the labor camp that Lina, her mother and brother were deported to (starvation, a couple beatings, shooting, and being treated as less then human). There is a bit of language in this book, although it is more like and someone swore.

As for sexual content, there is talk of how one of mothers gave her body to the Soviet soldiers in order to keep them from killing her son. I should mention that while it is known what she is doing, there is nothing in the book of it actually happening.

Final Verdict: Between Shades of Gray, one story that you will not be able to forget any time soon.

Between Shades of Gray earns 5 out of 5 pineapples.


  1. Wow! What a great review. I have been curious about this and have nearly forgotten it. Thank you for the great review and reminder.

    1. Glad to have reminded you of this book. It is definitely a great read. =)

  2. This sounds like such a powerful book with some real heart wrenching moments. The character, although you say she is angry, till sounds compelling and heroic.

    1. It is definitely a powerful book, and Lina is one strong lead character. =)


I read, and am working on replying, to all the comments y'all leave. All comments are moderated by me, so, if you don't see it automatically that's why.
Psst, there is no "Word Verification" on the comments. =)

Keep on being awesome!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin