Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Between Shades of Gray (YA)

Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages.

They took me in my nightgown.
Thinking back, the signs were there--family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.
We were taken.

Between Shades of Gray is historical fiction at its best. This novel is amazing but haunting. Readers get the opportunity to experience hell alongside the young heroine, Lina, as her family is taken captive by the Soviets--NKVD--and sent into the harshest of environments, to Siberia. There they will work and starve and struggle to cling to even the smallest amounts of dignity and hope. Lina, Jonas, and their mother manage to stay together. But there is no happy reunion with her father. Though they do know he's been taken captive too.

Between Shades of Gray isn't an easy novel to read. And it may not be for every reader. For some the subject may be too dark, too heavy. But I think it is an important novel, a significant one. It is a very haunting novel that is beautifully told.

Lina and her family are Lithuanians. But there were many families from many different countries/cultures that enter into the story.

Read Between Shades of Gray

  • If you are looking for a powerfully haunting novel to read and remember
  • If you are a fan of war stories, human tragedies
  • If you are a fan of historical fiction set during this time period
  • If you want to learn something new

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana 11:57 AM  

I really want to read this one soon. It has been on my wish list for a while.

Renee 6:41 PM  

I'm reading this beginning today to see if it's a good choice for my high school students' summer reading list. I've read great reviews.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic 12:53 AM  

I absolutely love this book. It is such a touching read.

Rose City Reader 6:35 PM  

It sounds like a very good book.

Thanks for including your review in the European Reading Challenge!

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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