Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lithuuanian WW2 novel

Between Shade of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, UK edition cover.

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
Young Adult (YA), Romance, War
Publication Date:
7th April 2011

That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch . . .

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to loose . . .
Will hope keep Lina alive?

Rating: ****
(4 stars)

Below the blurb in my edition of the book is the following section of text:

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

This is not the first fictional war story I have read, nor is it the first one based on a “true” account – for my A-Level (or was it AS?) English Literature I was obliged to devour several books and poems about World War II – nor is it even the first YA book with this theme I have read. What is new for me is the subject matter. This book is about the travesties that Russia under Stalin’s rule committed, particularly to the Baltic states – though the Lina and her family originate from Lithuania. It was an eye-opening read, as I honestly had no idea what happened in those states between 1941 and 1991 (it may have started earlier, I don’t know).

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