BOOK REVIEW: Between Shades Of Gray – by Ruta Sepetys

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Title: Between Shades Of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
First published: March 22nd 2011
Finished reading: November 24th 2015
Pages: 344
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“I shut the bathroom door and caught sight of my face in the mirror. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade.”

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I have always had a special interest for historical fiction novels set during WWI or WWII. I normally prefer non fiction or adult fiction, although there are exceptions: The Diary Of A Young Girl, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas and now Between Shades Of Gray. I wasn’t fully convinced by Ruta Sepetys‘ prose itself in the beginning mostly because I felt it sounded too childish, and not in a The Boy In The Striped Pajamas good way. Still, once I got over the ‘young feel’ of the prose I actually enjoyed how it was narrated. WWII survival stories are never pleasant and Between Shades Of Gray is definitely heartbreaking. It’s impressive how Lina and the other characters are able to survive against all odds, especially once they are set to work in a work camp in freezing Siberia… This novel is quite a quick read and perfect for those who enjoy historical fiction and don’t mind reading a story ment for young teens.

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Before the war changed their lives, Lina was just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl. She can draw wonderfully and is about to her her dream fulfilled of studying art and learning from the best… But all that is taken away from her when Soviet officers barge into her home and take both her, her mother and her little brother Jonas away. Lina doesn’t know where her father is and is forced into a crowded and dirty train with unknown destination. By chance they cross the train with her father inside, and his promise to find Lina again gives her hope. They travel all the way north to Siberia, making stops in work camps on the way. Their living conditions are inhumane and the Soviet officers treat their prisoners as pigs. But Lina, Jonas and her mother are determined to survive and return home one day. Lina finds solace in her art and draws everything she sees, hoping these drawings will find their way to her father’s prison camp. Will they ever see each other again? And will they be able to survive against all odds?

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Aside from the somewhat childish prose in the beginning, I really enjoyed this novel. For such a heavy topic, Between Shades Of Gray is quite easy to read and the character development is very well done. My favorite characters would probably be Lina and Andrius, but I liked most characters. Ruta Sepetys is able to describe the emotions and suffering perfectly and even though this is a fictional story, it feels real. Recommended!

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11 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Between Shades Of Gray – by Ruta Sepetys

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