Mundie Moms

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Review- Between Shades of Gray

Published by Penguin
To Be Released on March 22nd, 2011
Source- ARC from publisher for review
5 stars- Everyone Needs To Read This

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. (quoted from Penguin's site).

I've struggled with writing my review for this remarkable, powerful, moving book. How do I put into words my thoughts and feelings over reading a story that brings to light something that really happened? Ruta Sepetys gives a voice to something that never should have been allowed to happen, and yet it's apart of our world's history, but something rarely taught. Between Shades of Gray is one of the most empowering books that I've ever read.

In the rein of Stalin's terror it's estimated he killed over 20 million people, with the states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia losing more than a third of their population. How could something like this happen? Honestly, I do not understand how Hilter's horrors have been told, but never Stalin's. I can't imagine how emotional it must have been for Ruta to research and give a voice to the story. Ruta's words for Between Shades of Gray are beautiful, moving and will stay with me for a long time to come.

This story carries a message of love, hope and belief! It made me think, it made me cry and it's moved me in away I never thought possible. I know that many of the characters are fictional, but the story itself it not and it's one I am grateful to have read. I was shocked to learn that those who survived this hell were forced to keep this a secret! I can't imagine! This story needed a voice and it's one I want to share with everyone.

Lina's story isn't one that's just emotional, as I mentioned above it's empowering to know that no matter what they had to endure, their love, hope and beliefs did not waiver. One of the most powerful lines came from Lina's mother when she told her, "A wrong doing doesn't give us the right to do wrong." It wasn't hard for me to understand Lina's feelings and feel her emotion, but her mother is the one that left the biggest impression on me. She is the essence of love and hope and never giving up. I would hope that I could have a fraction of her strength.

I would hope that this is a book that everyone reads. It's not necessary a heavy read, as Ruta has a way of brining her story to life through a teenage girl, Lina, making it part a coming of age story. It's a courageous to tell and I am at a loss for words. To say I'm grateful that Ruta brought this story to life sounds wrong, as unthinkable things happened to millions of people. I'm grateful Ruta gave the story a voice, and that I have had the chance to read this remarkable story. I have a profound feeling of gratitude after reading it. I hope that Between Shades of Gray doesn't just make it into personal libraries, but also schools and history classes. This story has been told and now it just needs to be heard.

Don't miss our interview with Ruta and our Between Shades of Gray giveaway here.


  1. Beautiful review of a fantastic book.

  2. I love historicals. I'm adding this one to my TBR.

  3. I had already added this one to my TBR list, but I think I might have to move it up on that list and make sure I get to it soon. Thanks for the wonderful review on what promises to be a powerful read.

  4. I will definitely request this for our library to purchase! Thank you for an excellent review.

  5. Pam- Thank you so much!!

    Liz- This is an outstanding historical!

    Tracy- I would highly recommend moving it up on top of your TBR list. It's definitely a story that has stayed with me.

    Sophie- Great idea on asking the library to purchase. I'll have to see if mine is going to do that too.

  6. This is one of the most beautiful reviews I've read! Your right so much in the world is over looked i think a story like this one was needed I'm glad some one wrote it.
    as always ♥, Carol

  7. I agree with everything you said, after reading this powerful book I wanted to scream out to the world that everyone needs to read it. Great review! :)

  8. Carol- Thank you so much for that huge compliment! I really appreciate it.

    Cynthia- Thank you! We totally need to start throwing this book at people... not literally, but this one book I'd love to buy a lot of and just hand out to random people on the street and tell them they have to read it.