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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

    Between Shades of Gray    
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Pages: 338
Publisher: Penguin/Philomel
Release Date: March 22nd 2011 (US)/April 7th 2011 (UK)
Source: For Review 

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent 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.

This book touched me more than I ever thought possible. There is so much truth and hurt in this book, a lot of which I wasn't aware of before I read it. I was ignorant when it came to Stalin and I think a lot of people are. I never learnt about him in school. The focus is always Hitler and I think it is a shame that we don't learn about someone who was as bad, if not worse, than Hitler.

This book taught me a lot. It made me want to learn more. Historically it taught me a lot and emotionally it taught me a lot. It reminded me that hope and mental strength are so powerful. These people were so brave and courageous, uniting to help each other even if it meant that they went hungry.

The book was beautifully written. Simple and to the point. I didn't feel like I was being manipulated or tricked into feeling sad or pity for these people. It was very natural. The most important thing about the writing was that it felt honest. I felt like these were real people and I suppose they were. They represented real people that fought to stay alive and those that died whilst trying.

The characters, like the writing, were just honest, touching and empowering. Lina moved me to tears on countless occasions. She is just two years younger than me and I couldn't imagine going through what she did. Her strength and her overwhelming capacity to love and protect her family just inspired me. Lina's mother, too, was an inspiration. She went hungry to feed her children, she helped a man whose actions didn't seem to deserve that help. I would list all the characters and say how they affected me in some way. Even the characters that were selfish and very charitable touched my heart in some way. Whilst we are able to admire the selfless, those who are not cannot be blamed for wanting to survive. 

Those of you who read purely fantasy and paranormal to escape reality? Read this. It is so much more than a contemporary novel that is set in the past. It contains truth, history, love and most of all it contains hope. Hope that we can take away from it. That we can make it through anything, just like these people did.

I doubt that my review has done the book justice. Words cannot explain the affect this book had on me. Ruta said that she felt this book had to be written. I completely agree. Hands down, my favourite contemporary read this year so far. Possibly ever.

Cover Review

I love it. It really captures the essence of the book and provides that glimmer of hope that the book really focuses on. The barbed fire around the edges of the book give a enclosed feeling, showing that even though they aren't free they still have hope.


  1. Wow, I'm so happy to hear how the book influenced you. Fantastic review!

  2. Oh wow, l so want to read this book!

  3. I just read a review of this one in a book magazine. It sounds so interesting. I'm definitely adding it to my list of books to read. Thanks for the review!

  4. At first, I didn't like the way the book jumped around. As I got further into the book, the jumping back & forth created suspense & I couldn't put the book away.
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  5. I recommend this book to everyone. It is YA, but written simply and well. Younger YA audiences could easily read this, but for concerned parents know there is violence and rape by coercion. It is a book describing atrocities that occurred, but isn't any worse than is presented in the media today. I would suggest to those with young kids to read it first and then decide. It is a book I think parents should read anyway.

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