Friday, February 14, 2014


Book Title: Between Shades of Gay 
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2011
Pages: 344
Rating: *****/5 stars!

Favourite Quote:
“Good men are often more practical than pretty " said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.” 
Ruta Sepetys


Most people know the terrors of the holocaust and the perils of World War II but what is left unheard is an equally as tragic story of people in the Baltic region being ripped from their lives and sent to Siberia. Between Shades of Gray is a story about a teenage girl named Lina from Lithuania whose family (including herself) are forced from their home. They are sent on a journey to Siberia to a work camp facing horrible conditions all while being torn away from their father who they think was sent to prison. This story is one of how corrupt and awful the Soviet Union was to innocent people. Lina's story of her will to survive, keep her family together and go back home is one of admiration.


I love history but I must admit, I know very little of the Soviet Union, Stalin's reign, or even much about Eastern/Northern Europe. Between Shades of Gray changed that for me (along with the Olympics) I was constantly searching about Russia and the Soviet Union. I wanted to know more about this time in history because the story about Lina was just so tragic. I cried at different parts of the book and at time, I had to put the book down and walk away. The heaviness that was set within me was just too much.

Lina's and Andrius' love and friendship was so admirable at a time when trusting no one was probably the best solution. The picture I have of Jonas is one of a happy go-lucky kid in a terrible situation but nothing gets him down.

I learned so much about Lithuania and Russia from reading this book. I realized there was a time when people couldn't talk freely in case the Soviets overheard. You couldn't help family members who were taken away because the Soviet Union would find you and most likely do the same thing. People of all ages were targets and were treated as slaves despite their innocence. The fact that this tragedy lasted so long and was kept quiet until 1990 is remarkable and yet so sad. It seemed like after WWII stories of the Holocaust were available because people never wanted it to happen again. However, the Soviet Union reigned over the people in the Baltic Region (as well as many other countries) and they were not allowed to talk about what was happening out of fear. I can't imagine it.

Ruta Sepetys did a wonderful job at telling a story that has been hidden and kept secret for decades. I belive the story of the people who were taken away as slaves by the Soviet Union should be told across history classrooms across the world.

I give Between Shades of Gray 5/5 stars because it was written beautifully and I could feel the pain that Lina felt as she faced such tragic circumstances.

Have you read Between Shades of Gray? If so, what did you think? Did you know much about the Soviet Union before reading the story?


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