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October 05, 2015


Title : Between Shades of Gray
Author : Ruta Sepetys
Publisher : Philomel Books
Published on : 22nd March, 2011


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'm sure everyone here knows about World War II, one of the darkest periods in our history. And what comes to your mind when someone mentions it? Hitler perhaps? Or the Axis and Allied powers? The Book Thief? Anne Frank? How many are familiar with the Baltic Invasion? I wasn't till I read this book.

Between Shades of Gray is different from other WWII books because it doesn't focus on an event widely known by the world, but the one that has been overlooked for quite sometime by history as trivial. 

The Baltic countries beside Russia, like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also suffered greatly. BSoG captures the hardships one of the Baltic countries had to go through. 

Lina finds her life as well as her family's abruptly spiraling out of control when the Soviets deport them to Siberia. Everyday becomes a struggle to survive. Starvation and illness become a constant companion and hope to make it out alive as a family is the only will to try and survive.

This is not a pretty book. It shows the ugliest side of humanity but also it shows how resilient we are. But the author mainly focused on how unfair it is that history never remembered the pain of the Baltic countries during and after the war. And it is unfair. I truly didn't even know about labour camps, similar to concentration camps set up by the Nazis to execute Jews, were also set up by Russians to punish the people of the Baltic countries. 

To say I'm grateful that Ruta brought this story to life seems wrong, as all these unthinkable things actually happened to millions of people. But I am grateful because she gave the people of Lithuania a voice and it needs to be heard by everyone. So I urge you all to read this book

Between Shades of Gray is being turned into a movie titled Ashes In the Snow . Click the link to find out more :)

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