Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Synopsis :

That morning, my brother’s life was worth a pocket watch....

One night, 15 year old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and set away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again but she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family, for her country, for her future and for love – first love with a boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose..Will hope keep Lina alive?

Between Shades of Gray is a tragic and heartbreaking and extremely beautifully written story. Written through the eyes of 15 year old Lina, you will follow her as she and her family (mother and brother) travel thousands of miles to places unknown to them and for reasons beyond their comprehension. The only thing keeping them alive and from insanity is the thought of reuniting with their father and going home one of these days.

Lina can drawn extremely well. The things that kept her going are the drawings that she did while being detained. She tried to send some of her drawings to where she thought her father might be imprisoned. Others, she kept as records. The book covers over 2 years of her life as she and her family journeyed from her home to labour camps in Siberia and to the Arctic Circle.

Between Shades of Gray is more than just a story about Lina and her family. It shares with the world the Baltic people’s genocide in the 1940s. Many people from the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were deported and imprisoned in camps and farms such as potatoe and beets farms in Siberia.  The author's father, who is the son of a Lithunian military officer, managed to escape with his parents through Germany into refugee camps while others in his families were deported and imprisoned. This is their story.

While the book is about sadness, despair, oppression, it’s also about human compassion, hope, survival and love. It ended with this beautiful statement that gives Lina much hope while she was still at camp  – ‘That’s when I saw it. A tiny silver of gold appeared between shades of gray on the horizon. I stared at the amber band of sunlight, smiling. The sun had returned.’

I thought that was so beautiful. Silver of gold between shades of gray – a tiny glimpse of hope, tiny, but yet enough to keep her alive.

Between Shades of Gray was published in April 2011 by Penguin Group. Thanks to CYH of Penguin Malaysia for the review copy.


  1. This is a good book. WIll look out for it in the bookstore

  2. I saw it once in Popular but not in any other bookstores.