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Between Shades of Gray Paperback – April 3, 2012
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*Starred Review* Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina's great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them. A gifted artist, she begins secretly creating pictures that can--she hopes--be surreptitiously sent to him in his own prison camp. Whether or not this will be possible, it is her art that will be her salvation, helping her to retain her identity, her dignity, and her increasingly tenuous hold on hope for the future. Many others are not so fortunate. Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, estimates that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their populations during the Russian genocide. Though many continue to deny this happened, Sepetys' beautifully written and deeply felt novel proves the reality is otherwise. Hers is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership. Grades 7-12. --Michael Cart --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Praise for Between Shades of Gray:
“A superlative first novel. A hefty emotional punch.”--The New York Times Book Review
“Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both.”--The Washington Post
"Beautiful…a superb though grueling novel.”--The Wall Street Journal
“An eye-opening reimagination of a very real tragedy written with grace and heart.”--Los Angeles Times
“An engrossing and poignant story of the fortitude of the human spirit in a dark time in Lithuanian history.”--Associated Press
“Brave Lina is a heroine young and old readers can believe in.”--Entertainment Weekly
“Please read this small window into a tragedy.”--NPR
“Beautifully written and researched, it captures the devastation of war while celebrating the will to survive.”--Family Circle
* “A harrowing page-turner.”--Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “A gripping story.”--School Library Journal, starred review
* “Bitterly sad, fluidly written…Sepetys' flowing prose gently carries readers.”--Kirkus, starred review
* "Beautifully written and deeply felt…an important book that deserves the widest possible readership.”--Booklist, starred review
“A haunting chronicle, demonstrating that even in the heart of darkness ‘love is the most powerful army.'”--The Horn Book Magazine
“Stalin deported and murdered millions, but he could not destroy the seeds of memory, compassion, and art that they left behind. From those seeds, Ruta Septeys has crafted a brilliant story of love and survival that will keep their memory alive for generations to come.”--Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Speak and Wintergirls
“In terrifying detail, Ruta Sepetys re-creates World War II coming of age all too timely today. Between Shades of Gray is a document long overdue.”--Richard Peck, Newbery Award–winning author of A Year Down Yonder
“Between Shades of Gray is a story of astonishing force. I feel grateful for a writer like Ruta Sepetys who bravely tells the hard story of what happens to the innocent when world leaders and their minions choose hate and oppression. Beautiful and unforgettable.”--Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor–winning author of Hitler Youth
“Sepetys has penned a harrowing and heartbreaking novel. Beautifully written and important.”--Harlan Coben, international bestselling author of Shelter
— Ruta Sepetys
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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.
“Sure, we were safe. Safe in the arms of hell.”
I don’t have a lot to say about this book because I just can’t. This book left me speechless. It was so fascinating how Ruta Sepetys wrote a tragic story to let us know the truth about the crimes of Stalin. I don’t even know how those people survived such terrible things, but as Ruta said, they had love and they survived through love. Not just love in a romantic way, it was love for a lot of things, especially their families.
I was hooked with the story since the first chapter. Ruta’s writing is beautiful, and even though this isn’t a love story (for me), it was beautiful in its own way. I liked how those people did almost the impossible to survive, to feed their children, to find their lost ones. There was sorrow, pain, suffering, loss, love but most important, there was hope. Every single death touched my heart, and when I read this book I had to hold my tears because if I started crying, I wouldn’t stop.
“Evil will rule until good men or women choose to act.”
As soon as I finished this I didn’t know what to do. You know, after reading such a tragic story is very hard to forget about it, to just pretend you didn’t read that ugly side of history… of humanity. History teachers should give this book to their students because I think is extremely important to know this side of the story… to know the truth. I know this is a story of fictional characters, but what makes it important is that this story reflects the true story that took the lives of 20 millions of innocent people, and that’s a LOT of people. I’m pretty sure most of us didn’t know this side of the story, and also we think our history classes failed us, but know you can educate yourself thanks to Ruta Sepetys.
I don’t encourage people to read this book because it is pretty or happy, because it isn’t. I encourage people because this story is important. It’s not always easy to write such a serious topic for young adults but I think Ruta did it and captured it perfectly.