Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel (Penguin)
http://www.rutasepetys.com
http://www.betweenshadesofgray.com
ISBN: 9780399254123
Release Date: March 22, 2011

from the official book site: 

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost. 

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. 

It is 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 thoughts: 
 
I'm not sure I can properly put everything Between Shades of Gray made me feel into words. The emotions of Lina and her family were so palpable that I sometimes had trouble separating myself from the story. Reading the story of Lina and her family I felt their fear, anger, and confusion. Even writing about it now, it's all coming back. 
 
Lina is a fabulously strong character. Despite everything she and her family endure, she holds onto herself and her hope and finding her father again. Strong as Lina is though, it is her mother's strength that astounds me. Through it all, Mrs. Vilkas is a pillar of strength for all of the deportees. She holds everyone together when they are ready to fall apart.  

I don't think there is a single character in Between Shades of Gray that I didn't find myself caring about in some way. Everyone's fate mattered to me; they felt that real.
 
This is a story that needs to be read. This is a history that needs to be told. Lina and her family may be fictional, but these things did happen, and we should honor the memory of those who suffered and died by sharing their story. I'm so glad that Ruta Sepetys sat down to write Between Shades of Gray and share these events with the world. I admit being of Lithuanian ancestry makes me even more emotional about this story; it felt very personal, even knowing that my family came to America prior to Stalin and his atrocities.

And now for the fun part: 
 
Because I believe so strongly that this story needs to be read. I'm giving away not one, but two copies. To enter to win just leave a comment on this post. You can talk about this book, you can talk about another book that really touched you, just say something. I'll announce the winners sometime Tuesday May 10 (specific time will depend on when I get up). If you're like me and you think you'll forget to check back please leave your email in your comment so I can contact you.

22 comments:

Aubrie said...

Wow, sounds like a good book. :)

Abbey G said...

It sounds like such a good book, Heather!

Anonymous said...

It's a great book! I've ordered several copies to give to friends. If I win another one, I'll donate it.
Daiva Markelis

Anonymous said...

Love this book! Awesome ad the best ive ever read.

Ricky Garcia said...

I will get it in german when its out but a english read before would be nice! :-)

Jamie said...

Truly touching story! Listened to audio version and have recommended to several of my library patrons!

Gintare said...

I cannot wait to have this book in my own hands. I am Lithuanian and I am very proud of telling my country history to my partner. Thus having this book will be easier to explain and to "show" to him that Lithuanian people are very passionate about their country and will never give up fighting for their freedom and country.
Gintare

Anonymous said...

Although the book was intended for my 13 year old niece so she would appreciate the fate of her great-grandparents, uncles and aunts, eleven of whom were sent to Siberia, the book was hijacked by the adults and is still being passed from family to family. We had to buy two more copies to satisfy the demand. The writing is beautiful, the story heartbreaking. It's definitely not just for young adults. Wonderful! Thank you, Ruta.

Aleetha said...

I have read many review about this book. Most of them love it. I cant help my self, but my eyes were teary when I saw the trailer of this book. it was so touching.

One book that also touched me is The Kite Runner. It also has a war background.

I think historical fiction has their own way to touch your heart.

Viva said...

Sounds like a great book, I'd love to win. Thanks!

Ted S. said...

"Between Shades of Gray" is one of my favorite books of not only 2011, but of the past decade. I read it for a book committee I'm on and absolutely LOVED it. The whole question of "What is a life worth?" is one that is very relevant in our current state as Americans and as human beings in general. We are so quickly to make the "other" our enemy, we often forget that they are humans as well. I purchased a copy of BSoG for my library (middle school Teacher-Librarian) and am working to get this book into the hands of my 8th grade students. And I must say, the cover is wonderful. :-) It's a must read for all!

(schelvantj at yahoo dot com)

Tiffany Drew said...

I have had this on my wish list for some time now, I would love to win a copy. Thank you very much for the chance to win :)

jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

Paul said...

this is on the short list for immediate reading. as i have learned more about my lithuanian heritage, i never cease to be amazed by the tenacity and courage of the lithuanian people.

Beth Sexton said...

Love the book want a copy for my mom and sister who are going to Latvia in October my mother hasn't been back since escaping to Germany as a child in 1942.

Meg said...

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a tribute and a triumph!

Anonymous said...

love it soooooo much. Read it in a day!! Its an amazing and inspiring book.

Asta said...

Amazing book! Thanks, Ruta!
All the world would know about Lithuania!

Anonymous said...

Would love to win this book!

Heather said...

Winners have been selected. Thank you everyone for your comments. :) I'll be posting a separate entry with the winners info in a moment.

Virginia said...

I have a friend who had five sisters who were from Klaipeda, and deported to Siberia in 1943. They lost fingers and toes to the cold. They survived to come back to Lithuania, go to medical school and help others survive in the cold war era. Two of them came to the US to become doctors here. Kudos to the human spirit!

Renee Pace said...

OMG can't wait to get my hands on this book. Off to buy. I haven't read anything like that in years and aiming it for teens is great. I put a request into my library to purchase it.

Brianna Bruce said...

I've had my eye on this one for a while. I would love to win this! Thanks for the giveaway.

bruce.brianna AT gmail DOT com