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Between Shades of Gray Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 22, 2011
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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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"A gripping story." - School Library Journal, starred review
"Sepetys' flowing prose gently carries readers." - Kirkus, starred review
"Beautifully written and deeply felt." - Booklist, starred review
Read an excerpt from Between Shades of Gray [PDF].
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read The Diary of Anne Frank several times and in fact just re-read it this year and I'm sure that is one of the most well known accounts from a victim of the Holocaust and really helped put a face on the victims. I felt like this book did the same for me about the victims of Stalin's deportations. This topic was something that I studied when I took Russian in high school and Russian History in college but I did not truly feel the horrors these people went through during Stalin's reign. It's made all the worse when you read that Sepetys based some of the events in the book from stories that actual survivors recounted to her.
The story is told from the point of view of Lina and the passages alternate between what is happening to her in the present and happier memories from her past. Through her observations we see how different people reacted to their circumstances. Some were defeated and gave up all hope where as others were determined to survive whatever the Soviets did to them. The circumstances brought out such acts of depravity and at the same time unbelievable depths of kindness from unexpected sources that you have to wonder how would you react in their positions.
If you have never read about the re-locations that Stalin ordered of the native people of countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and other countries that the Soviet Union annexed then you have to read this book. The writing was entrancing and will keep you glued to the book until the very end. It's really hard to put into words just how amazing this book is but I highly recommend it to everyone. I'd even go so far as to say if there is only one book you will read this year, this should be it.
I finished this book last week, but didn't get to sitting down and writing a review until now. This emotionally poignant novel shows us a World War 2/Holocaust story that many haven't heard before. In "Between Shades of Gray", we follow the story of one young woman who was taken away in the middle of the night from all she knew and forced to work in prison camps, being accused of being a criminal, and losing everything dear to her. This girl wasn't Jewish like beloved Anne Frank though and it wasn't the Nazis. This girl was from Lithuania and living under the oppressive hand of Stalin. The book is written in the style of first person reflections that in the end, we find out have been published to let everyone know about this little told story. The victims of Stalin's oppression were treated as criminals even after their release and were forced to never speak of the torture they endured. This story is fiction, but its basis is not. Drawing on research, talking to families of survivors, and on her own family's story of survival, Ruta Sepetys paints a vivid picture of the cruelty of war and injustice.
It is well written and for a historical novel and a very quick read. The chapters are short, but powerful. I wouldn't read it without a box of tissues near by. It's a tear jerker, but it is also inspiring. Lina is just a girl when she and her family are taken, but quickly grows into the woman she needs to be for her family. She is a character I think a lot of young adults can relate to, despite the incredible difference in situation.
This book is wonderful for anyone who loves historical fiction based on true stories. The way it is written appeals to adult and teen readers (who may have a shorter attention span for historical fiction). I think this would be a great book to accompany any lesson plan regarding WWII and shine light on a situation that not many know about.
Powerful stuff... well done, Ms. Sepetys.
And, of course, there were no stories, no actual, personal memoirs to tell me differently. No versions of Schindler's List or Elie Wiesel's Night existed about the plight of these European nations, ones which we in the United Stated don't know nearly as much about as we do France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Twenty million was just a statistic to me - a wholly regrettable, but forgettable, number, because there was no narrative. Until now.
Between Shades of Gray is beautiful book about human endurance and the will to survive. Lina, her younger brother, Jonas, and her beautiful, courageous, hopeful, and selfless mother, Elena, are one of the most wonderful families that I've read about in so, so long, and it's due to this that they were able to cope as they did. Lina's coming-of-age into young adulthood is wretchedly overshadowed by the need to survive. Her thriving talent becomes her lifeline, her tool that keeps her going because people must know what happened. The descriptions are well-detailed and harrowing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a compelling, sad, lonely, yet victorious piece of history. As with any book dealing with victims of the holocaust, it can be very difficult to read. Read morePublished 1 day ago by kimberlyrav
This book is beautifully written and I could not stop reading it. It has inspired me to research what happened to the Baltic people during Stalin's reign of terror.Published 13 days ago by Kindle Customer
Amazing book...literally one I could not put down and read straight through (but I tend to do that when I find one I'm really into). Read morePublished 13 days ago by TN Mom
I was recommended this book by a friend.
After going through a "reading drought" I had little hope I would enjoy the book. Read more
It is sad that this book is considered young adult and listed under prejudice and racism. It is a read for all ages. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Sparkling Rose
This book was based off of true stories in circumstances that many of us could never fathom. Very interesting read but I thought the ending was poor.Published 16 days ago by MS