Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Grey is a fictional story that is based on the real life of the author's family history.  It follows Lina, a young Lithuanian girl, and her family as they are taken from their home in the night by the invading Russian army and forced to travel to a labor camp in Siberia.  It's a unique look at the happenings in Lithuania and Russia during World War II, an aspect that is often overlooked.

Beautiful.  Sepetys really captures the horrible things that Lina's family must endure in a way that is also hopeful and inspiring.  The writing is a bit simplistic, but in this case I really appreciated it.  Sepetys doesn't try to sound literary, but let's the story shine in it's simplicity.  The writing style also means that it can appeal to a wider audience in terms of age.  I would recommend it for anyone from middle school through adulthood.

Entertainment Value
The plot moves quickly and the characters were completely relatable.  I cared deeply about the family and what happened to them.  Again, I think the story is suitable for a wide audience - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a middle school student, but I also think adults would enjoy it.  The subject matter is heavy, but Sepetys conveys it in a way that I think mature middle grade readers can handle.

I highly recommend reading it.  I think it gives insight into a part of history that is often overlooked (the Siberian labor camps of World War II) in a way that is accessible to a wide audience.  I think it would go along well with the books that are typically read about the Holocaust, such as The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place.


  1. Hi, can i ask you something? It's a bit off-topic, but... I'm looking for children books with such "scary" animal illustrations like wolf (or fox) eating pigs (or seven kids or Red Riding hood or birds in Chicken Little) or being pictured with a fat stomach. Have you seen any book of this sort? Any sort of help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Great blog, by the way ;)


  2. I have this on my bookshelf. I read The Gulag Archipelago last year (2011!) and it was really interesting about the labor camps. One of the saddest things was that Russian WWII veterans were sent to them because they didn't fight to the deal against Germany.

  3. I have heard so many people rave about this one...I really need to pick it up.

  4. This was the last book I read in 2011 and ended up being one of the top reads of the year! My review is yet to come though...

  5. This sounds like a great book club read.

  6. Nelly - I'd suggest looking at any book with the original Grimm's fairy tales in them. One I have is called The Juniper Tree and it has some fairly gruesome woodcuttings in it.

    Kenpen - I'm adding The Gulag Archipelago to my TBR list!

  7. I really want to read it. So many reviews I've read mentioned how beautiful the writing is! And I adore beautiful writing :)