Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

12913325 Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: April 3, 2012 by Speak
Length: 338 pages
Source: bought

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.  



Between Shades of Gray is such a beautiful and impactful story. Readers will be hooked on from start to finish because of the beautiful writing style and relatable characters. If you are looking for a contemporary read that will make you feel “all the feels”, then this is the one. The book is divided into 3 parts and is told in 1st p.o.v. from the main character Lina. Lina is a fifteen year old who lives in Lithuania with her parents and little brother Jonas. She tells us what she and her family experiences during WWII through her drawings. I could not stop reading this because I felt so attached to the characters that I really wanted to know whether the characters will be reunited with their loved ones at the end.  This book made me feel sad, happy at times, hatred, and just lots of emotions.

There is a bit of a romance in this book and I absolutely loved it! I loved Lina and Andrius’s (a boy that she meets while being taken to a camp) relationship and how they got each others’ backs. I admire them for taking risks, and for just being strong and hopeful. This book was also a reminder for me that I should be thankful and appreciative of what I have right now. It’s crazy how this is part of our history, and I hope it won’t repeat. What the characters had to go through just disgusts me. They did not deserve being called “fascist pigs” and being shot in the head just because they were mourning for their loved ones who died. I really loved Lina and her brother Jonas because when a lot of people were giving up, they pushed through. I also love how the people they were with were not greedy. They receive bread for rations, and if one was sick, they would sacrifice their ration to that person. It just made my heart melt! Ugh. I love this book.

I honestly don’t have words for this book. You should just read it asap. I promise you, you will not regret it.

22 Responses to “Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys”

  1. 1 Mitchii @ The Aeropapers January 10, 2015 at 7:24 AM

    I’m not really good with book with loads of feels, somehow, and most of I read felt manufactured to make me emotional, not truly touching me because of the story. But this sounds sincere and heard a lot of good buzz about it. And you did love it so I might try it, too. 😀

  2. 3 Nicole @ The Quiet Concert January 10, 2015 at 5:26 PM

    I have been meaning to read this book for a while but you’ve just encourage me to read it sooner rather than later. I have a feeling it is going to crush me but I am not averse to that for an important read. Thanks for sharing and putting this book back on my radar!

  3. 5 Jess@MyReadingDress January 11, 2015 at 2:27 AM

    Heartfelt contemporary? This one sounds beautiful. And I’m always a sucker for beautiful, lyrical writing so hopefully this one delivers, should I ever pick it up. Wonderful review, Leigh! x

  4. 7 Sam January 11, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    Oh, this looks awesome! A heartfelt contemporary sounds right up my alley.

  5. 9 Tara January 11, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    I also read Between Shades of Gray last year and reviewed it. I thought it was one of the most important stories I had read since The Book Thief. I thought it was extremely well written and very sad. Even though it is historical fiction, the author put a lot of research into the novel. I had no idea any of this happened during that time and I think more people should know about the prisoners that the Soviet Union held hostage.

  6. 11 Alise (Readers in Wonderland) January 11, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    I’ve always eyed this one but never picked it up-definitely need to do that soon because this one sounds so great. I love a book that can make me feel so many emotions like this one did for you. Nice review!

  7. 13 Liza @ Reading with ABC January 11, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    I’m sad to say that I still haven’t read this one! I did buy a copy because my ex co-blogger loved it and I’ve always wanted to read it. Maybe this is the push I needed 😉

  8. 15 Nara January 12, 2015 at 12:14 AM

    Ahh this is such a fantastic book! I really need to reread it at some point. It definitely gives you so many feels! I hope more historicals like this start coming out in YA- I feel like it’s a genre that’s underexplored. Fair enough though, because the amount of research to keep a book like this true to history would be huge.

  9. 17 Jeann @ Happy Indulgence January 12, 2015 at 3:59 AM

    I’ve seen this book around and always wondered what it was about, I always got it mixed up with Fifty Shades of Gray (but they are definitely INCREDIBLY different lol!) Great review Leigh.

    • 18 Leigh (LittleBookStar) January 12, 2015 at 2:22 PM

      Hahaha me too! When I hear or see this book, I thought it was something related to the 50 Shades of Grey series, but when I read the summary and really looked at the book cover, I realized it’s waaaay different from it. Thanks, Jeann. Hope you read it someday. 🙂

  10. 19 Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination January 12, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Between Shades of Gray, and it’s one of my friend’s favorite books. I also am quite obsessed with historical fiction, especially if it takes place during WWII. And of course characters that you get attached to are the best. This is going on my TBR.

  11. 21 Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity January 13, 2015 at 6:56 PM

    I love the sound of this book! To be honest, I had seen it floating around and the only thing I had thought about ti was: that title reminds me of 50 Shades of Grey.

    I do like reading wartime novels, but they do make me incredibly sad. And more than a little disgusted at the things we are capable of doing to each other. Between Shades of Grey sounds no different, but it also sounds like it shows the kinder side of humanity, too.

    I know when I next feel like an historical story, I’ll pick this one up!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Well hello there! Thank you so much for stopping by. Little Book Star is a young adult book blog ran by Leigh, an 18 year old avid reader. This blog consists of book reviews, giveaways, author interviews, and more! Feel free to explore!

Join 1,559 other followers

Follow on Bloglovin

%d bloggers like this: