Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: Between Shades of Gray

Title Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys
Genre YA historical
Pages 344
Recommended by Book Club

First Sentence They took me in my nightgown.

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions. From Goodreads

What is has going for it
Once again I'm reviewing a book I read quite awhile ago so I'll do my best to remember what I thought. I remember liking it. I thought the history was fascinating. Everyone knows about Hitler and Germany's role in WWII but no one really know...or I should say I  didn't know what was going in Russia at the same time. Learning about it was so interesting. I thought the authors idea of using a young adult girl to tell the tale was a great idea too. I have a hard time hearing about the awful things that happened to people in those types of situations and hearing it from a younger perspective kept it a little more toned down. Not so graphic, if you know what I mean. The characters actually stuck with me. I do remember them even if I don't remember the details of the story. So if you love characters, I think you'll like this one.

What's lacking
Despite enjoying the book and reading it pretty quickly I wasn't riveted. I could easily put the book down and wasn't dying to pick it back up. I also thought the ending was a bit too open ended. I wanted a little more closure.

Favorite moment
I loved Nikolai. When he cried near the end I just about lost it!

Yea or Nay?
Yeah, I'd say give it a go. 


  1. I felt the same way about this one. It was interesting, but it didn't wow me. I liked the author's second novel, OUT OF THE EASY, a lot more.

  2. This was also my first account of what was happening in Russia during WWII. I have read stuff from US, Germany, and France, but never Russia so I liked the different angle this book too.

  3. I'm glad you liked it. I did too. It wasn't riveting to me either. But, I really liked learning about the opression the Baltic states endured because I didn't really know anything about it.

  4. I agree, we don't hear much about Russia at that time.

  5. I was so astonished to learn about what was going on then-Germany does tend to dominate the discussion in the West. I did end up preferring the author's second novel more, like Susan mentioned.