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Between Shades of Gray Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 22, 2011
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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
"A harrowing page-turner." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
"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
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Not a light read, but the will to live and small flashes of human kindness make it bearable. Reminds me of Dave Eggers, What is the What.
On a personal level, as someone with Estonian roots, I found the story helped me understand WWII through the eyes of my Estonian grandparents and their family friends who had lived through that war.
The book was interesting, and a quick read, but the ending came to a conclusion rather suddenly. I would have liked more of a full end of the story.
I really enjoyed the book. The way the girl describes her old life in Lithuania is not much different than how we live now with fancy meals and down comforters. It is frightening to imagine that we could be taken from our homes the way This family was. What they had to endure was horrible.
I had trouble putting the book down. It was a quick read. Unfortunately, I found the end unsatisfying.