Review: Between Shades of Gray

TITLE: Between Shades of Gray
AUTHOR: Ruta Sepetys
PUBLICATION: 2011 by Philomel Books
FORMAT: Hardcover


Lina and her family are forced from their home and sent to a labor camp to toil for the Soviets. She draws their life in hell. However, amidst the very worst that people can do, Lina learns of the quiet strength that comes from hope and love…


I originally became aware of this novel from the NPR article “Two Gray Titles, One Sexy Mix-Up” that I came across during my break at work. Let’s see, erotica versus historical fiction… I wonder what the reader with a bookcase devoted to history is going to pick?! I became encouraged after Kathleen at Diary of a Future Golden Girl said I would like it since I liked The Book Thief.

The book is a young adult novel so I know that some of my blogger friends and followers would definitely like checking it out. The chapters are short, consisting of a few pages each. Most chapters contain a short flashback that detail a brief glimpse into our protagonist’s normal life. While Lina herself is a fictional character, the experiences related in this novel come from those of survivors that the author interviewed while researching for her book. It gives the story that much more weight.

This is the kind of historical fiction that I like to read about. I thought that I would take my time reading this book, but I became captivated and finished the last two hundred pages the next day only because I was too tired the night before to keep my eyes open anymore. This was a very hard book to put down and I do not hesitate in saying that it was definitely one of the best books that I have read this year. Just when I start to believe that anything I read will be average or something I find more wrong with than right to the point that I give up, I have to encounter Between Shades of Gray and endure my heart being ripped out of my chest and handed to me.

I could relate to Lina quite a lot actually. Why? I would never call myself an author or even a writer, but an artist works. It encompasses my passion for words, but also my desire to sketch and create something on the paper. I know that desire to draw. How it’s easier to express yourself with a pencil and paper than any verbal exchange could possibly accomplish…

Seriously why are you people not reading this book? I need others to join me in this emotional trauma!


5 thoughts on “Review: Between Shades of Gray

  1. I’m really ashamed to say this, but a friend offered to mail me a soft copy of this book and I turned it down because i assumed it was a sequel to fifty shades of grey. I’ll get in touch with her right now!
    Thank you for the review!

  2. I’m so glad you liked it! I was worried for a second that you were going to say that my recommendation couldn’t have been more wrong, heh. (I always get so nervous about recommending books for some reason, even when someone outright tells me they are interested in reading a particular one. Weird.) I can totally relate to being in that place of “Nothing impresses me anymore” and then just getting blindsided by a book. I had heard great things about this one, but I just couldn’t quite believe them until I read it for myself. I’ve already forgotten a lot about some of the books I read this year, but this one has definitely stayed with me.

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