Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Speak
Release date: March 22nd 2011
Pages: 338
Genre: Historical Young Adult fiction
Source: Bought
It's 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin's extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It's a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have no idea how to write this review - I don't think anything I can write will do this book justice, and none of my words could convey how powerful this novel is. I'm an idiot for waiting so long to read Between Shades of Gray; it is every bit as amazing as all those other glowing reviews have already claimed. Just read it, and you'll see it, too.

The emotions this book conveys are indescribable. Obviously, this is a sad, sad book, because terrible things happen. But what had me crying - bawling, really, and attracting stares from everyone around me, since I read this on a plane - even more than the sheer horror of the events, was the characters' attitudes towards these events. Hope and love are the prevalent themes throughout the novel and especially Lina's character, and those are the emotions that struck me most. Somehow, though, the hope and the love expressed by the characters made the whole thing even more heartbreaking.

The characters are what give the story such immense power. Even though we only see snippets of the characters' lives and only get to see them under such extreme circumstances, I felt like I really got to know them. The little things are what make it work, and each character, no matter how small, has some kind of depth to it, making all of them memorable characters. I especially liked how these characters blur the lines of what is good and what is bad.

Ruta Sepetys's beautiful writing doesn't hurt, either. I don't even know how to describe her writing, it's simply gorgeous. There are literary gems throughout this novel, making me want to quote basically all of it.

Between Shades of Gray is such an important book. It's specific to the historic events, opening the reader's eyes to the horrors that occurred in this context. But it also has a very timeless feel to it; it conveys the theme of love and hope in any situation. Heart-wrenching and powerful, this is a book that should not be missed.


  1. It was... Amazing.
    My family went through this even though we are Estonian. It was a great honor reading this book.
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