Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.


Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages 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, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

I’ve read quite a bit of Historical Fiction set during World War II. I’m very familiar with the suffering of the Jews under Hitlers reign. I know little about Stalin and absolutely nothing about Lithaunia. I was shocked to learn that the those under Stalin lived and died in circumstances every bit as horrible as the Jews.

Between Shades of Gray is an incredible book.  It is well written and pulls at the heart while still allowing for hope amidst horrible circumstances.   Ruta Sepetys did an amazing job painting vivid images that were not overly graphic.

This is not a light read yet I flew threw it because I didn’t want to put it down.  Written for young adults but with crossover appeal for adults as well.  To anyone who enjoys historical fiction I highly recommend that you read this book!

Between Shades of Gray will be released on March 22nd and should be added to your to read list.

Content: I would say this is a clean read for an adult and older teens. There are some very horrific things that happen that might be hard for younger teens to read.

Rating: 5 Stars

Source: ARC Tour