Review 49. Ruta Sepetys - Between shades of gray.

Author: Ruta Sepetys.
Pages: 344.
Published: March 22nd 2011  (first published January 1st 2011)
Publisher: Philomel Books
Sort: Stand alone.
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.

This book has a new cover now, but I love this one. The colors and the simplicity really fits the story, so I'm going to keep this one.

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

This is a very impressive story. It shows how cruel people can be towards each other. The suffer we can give to another person, simply because they had the power to do so.

I also loved this girl, Lina. She is a Lithuanian girl with a happy life, until she is forced to work in a labor camp in Siberia. She is separated from her father and she takes a great risk: she draws pictures, hoping that she can talk to her father that way. The fact that Lina does something like that, shows how strong and brave she really is.

She kept going on, when a lot of other people would have given up. The story also shows how 'looks can be deceiving'. When a woman gets a lot of privilege, everybody expects her to be a traitor. But then you discover what she must do and the reason why she does it. Heartbreaking. That's the power of this book. The complex characters, the way the past and present melt together and the harsh reality.


  1. Hi Mel :)
    I agree with you wholeheartedly. This book really shines the light to the darker side of humanity, yet also shows the strength and courage that humanity has to live through it all. "Heartbreaking" is the perfect word to describe this book.

    Lovely, short and concise review! I personally prefer short reviews to massive, essay long ones :)


  2. I've yet to read this one but I've heard good things. And I agree that the cover is beautiful in its simplicity.

  3. My gosh, what a depressing sounding story! But great review you shared, Mel! <3 And yes! I love that cover too! It's really quite beautiful in its simplicity.

    Hmmm..the people being cruel to each other..intrigues. I think I shall add this one to my list ;)

    Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

  4. Lina sounds like my kind of girl! One that's strong and hopeful and brave, even when the world around her crumbles? That's my favourite kind of heroine of all! <3 I feel like not enough people focus on the Lithuanians, even if the Jews had more casualties. It makes me so glad that Ruta Sepetys showed this mostly unexplored story! :)

    Beautiful review, Mel! <3

  5. Lovely review, Mel! :) Aww, I think this book would break my heart! Books set in war time always make me such cry baby. :') Lina sounds like a very strong heroine. Well, I guess you have to be strong to be able to survive in that time. :')

    Love your short review, Mel! x)

  6. @Kirthi, I'm glad that you like my short approach on some books :) Sometimes, books don't need a lot of words.
    @Jenny, the great things you've been reading about this one aren't lying :D
    @Vivian, it could be a depressing story, but because of Lina's strenght, the story got a whole other dimension!
    @Mimi, I was very pleased with the fact that this book was about this subject. I didn't know a lot about it, so it's nice to have a good book that is informative too :)
    @Hilda, haha, books about wars usually make me angry and upset.. I just can't stand wars. And I think you are right. She had to be strong to survive, but I think it's wonderful that she could manage to be so strong :)

  7. I cant believe I dont even have this book on ym shelf. Oh dear, thanks for the short and very precise review that has just pushed to get this book next time I go to the bookstore :)

    I love books with heavy themes, specially when it comes to human behavior.

    Great review my dear ^.^ muah!!


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