Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Early Review: Between Shades of Gray

Title: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Puffin (Spine breakers)

Publication Date: 7 April 2011

Book source: UK Book Tours

Video of author talking about the book

My Rating: 8/10

Buy the book

Book website


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

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 lose…

Will hope keep Lina alive?

My thoughts:

This is certainly one of those unputdownable books. I found it really hard to stop reading whenever I needed to just to find out what happens on the next page…and then the next….and the next…

It’s about such a serious topic that it can be a bit heavy at times but it really puts things into perspective for you; we’ve all heard about the concentration camps and the holocaust but what about everything else that happened? It was interesting to read about it from a character who was on the inside as it were.

Lina is taken away from her home with her mother and brother in the middle of the night with no idea of what’s happening. Her father is nowhere to be seen. They can hardly take anything with them. They are forced into a train carriage made for cattle. They haven’t done anything wrong.

Yeah, it’s clearly not made to be read as a sort of pick-me-up but it’s definitely well worth the read. You immediately feel for every character in one way or another as the story starts straight off with a big bang.

I loved the characters. It was by far the best thing about the story. Makes sense right? Characters that you end up hating in a story like this just wouldn’t work; you would end up not feeling sorry for them when needed or feel anything else much evading the point of the story altogether. It’s all about hope and the belief that everything is going to be all right. These characters just took it one step at a time as everything came to them. They encouraged each other and raised each other’s spirit’s and keep their hopes high. Of course, it didn’t always work but in the long run…well I’ll let you read the book first!

It is definitely heart breaking at times but I think that you can’t really pick up this book without expecting it to be. Sometimes it’s horrifying – like, literally sickening – but very moving. It’s one that stays with you.

The only problem I had with the book was the ending – shock horror. I just thought that it went waaaaay too fast which was disappointing since the story builds up a lot of suspense so well throughout the book that it became a little bit anticlimactic.

Overall though this is a fantastic, engrossing read that stays with you for a while. A truly glorious book!

Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is her debut novel and is based on her family’s history. "It's a story of extreme suffering, tremendous hope, and how sometimes love reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit," says Sepetys. Ruta now lives with her family in Tennessee.
To read about Ruta's latest escapades, visit her website



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