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.

Ratings and Reviews from the Librarians

Lorna rated it ★★★★ and said, “I, like many, did not know about the terrible genocide that occurred during the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States. Millions of people from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were deported to Siberia during Stalin’s cleansing of this area. Conditions were horrific. So it’s an important story, not only from the history standpoint, but also in love and hope.”

Bekka rated it ★★★★ and said, “This was a very powerful book. While not my favorite type of reading, the writing and suspense kept me hooked. I had a hard time putting it down. I didn’t find it as personally compelling as The Book Thief. However, it is an important story and one that has been largely overlooked by history.”

Miranda rated it ★★★★.

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