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Ce qu'ils n'ont pas pu nous prendre (Pôle Fiction)

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Lina est une jeune Lituanienne comme tant d'autres. Très douée pour le dessin, elle va intégrer une école d'art. Mais un nuit de juin 1941, des gardes soviétiques l'arrachent à son foyer. Elle est déportée en Sibérie avec sa mère et son petit frère, Jonas, au terme d'un terrible voyage. Dans ce désert gelé, il faut lutter pour survivre dans les conditions les plus cruelles Lina est une jeune Lituanienne comme tant d'autres. Très douée pour le dessin, elle va intégrer une école d'art. Mais un nuit de juin 1941, des gardes soviétiques l'arrachent à son foyer. Elle est déportée en Sibérie avec sa mère et son petit frère, Jonas, au terme d'un terrible voyage. Dans ce désert gelé, il faut lutter pour survivre dans les conditions les plus cruelles qui soient. Mais Lina tient bon, portée par l'amour des siens et son audace d'adolescente. Dans le camp, Andrius, 17 ans, affiche la même combativité qu'elle. Elu Meilleur roman Jeunesse 2011 par le Magazine LiRE


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Lina est une jeune Lituanienne comme tant d'autres. Très douée pour le dessin, elle va intégrer une école d'art. Mais un nuit de juin 1941, des gardes soviétiques l'arrachent à son foyer. Elle est déportée en Sibérie avec sa mère et son petit frère, Jonas, au terme d'un terrible voyage. Dans ce désert gelé, il faut lutter pour survivre dans les conditions les plus cruelles Lina est une jeune Lituanienne comme tant d'autres. Très douée pour le dessin, elle va intégrer une école d'art. Mais un nuit de juin 1941, des gardes soviétiques l'arrachent à son foyer. Elle est déportée en Sibérie avec sa mère et son petit frère, Jonas, au terme d'un terrible voyage. Dans ce désert gelé, il faut lutter pour survivre dans les conditions les plus cruelles qui soient. Mais Lina tient bon, portée par l'amour des siens et son audace d'adolescente. Dans le camp, Andrius, 17 ans, affiche la même combativité qu'elle. Elu Meilleur roman Jeunesse 2011 par le Magazine LiRE

30 review for Ce qu'ils n'ont pas pu nous prendre (Pôle Fiction)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Alsberg

    Really loved this book and it's story because I personally have never heard about this side of the war before and I'm so grateful I know about it now.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Stiefvater

    This is not a pretty book. Even though I found this novel exceptionally well-written, it was not a pleasure to read. It’s about Lithuanians displaced to Siberian work camps during World War II. It was pretty unflinchingly brutal, but here’s why I think you ought to read it: 1. It is a side of World War II that you might not have seen before. I certainly hadn’t heard these stories of displaced Europeans, and I have to say, having been to Lithuania on tour last year, it made so much of what they sai This is not a pretty book. Even though I found this novel exceptionally well-written, it was not a pleasure to read. It’s about Lithuanians displaced to Siberian work camps during World War II. It was pretty unflinchingly brutal, but here’s why I think you ought to read it: 1. It is a side of World War II that you might not have seen before. I certainly hadn’t heard these stories of displaced Europeans, and I have to say, having been to Lithuania on tour last year, it made so much of what they said have deeper meaning. I found their fierce national pride lovely and charming when I was there; after this novel, it seems incredibly brave and honorable. 2. Mom. The mother is really the heroine of this story (and that is my one nitpick about this novel: the narrator has no arc and no agency — all of the action is carried by her mother and her sort-of-boyfriend). She has such an incredible flame and kindness in her. One of my favorite book moms. 3. Shades of gray. The title promises and the novel delivers. Characters we think are horrid actually do incredibly kind things, and character we regard as friends do awful ones. 4. If you combine 2 and 3, you get my favorite part, which is that it makes you look at people an entirely new way. I love books that stretch my brain, and this one sat with me for hours and hours. 5. Wonderful sense of place, even when the place isn’t so wonderful. Like Lucy Christopher, I trust the author to take me someplace different, and I’ll be picking up whatever she writes next.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lora

    Actual rating: 4.5 stars As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to read this novel. Between Shades of Gray isn't the type of book I'd normally read, but I'm extremely glad that I decided to read it. Lina is a very strong and courageous character. Despite the situation Lina is placed in at the young age of fifteen, she audaciously chooses to write about the terrible cruelties the Soviets are doing to those around her as well as her family and herself. Lina is an artist, and she uses this talent Actual rating: 4.5 stars As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to read this novel. Between Shades of Gray isn't the type of book I'd normally read, but I'm extremely glad that I decided to read it. Lina is a very strong and courageous character. Despite the situation Lina is placed in at the young age of fifteen, she audaciously chooses to write about the terrible cruelties the Soviets are doing to those around her as well as her family and herself. Lina is an artist, and she uses this talent to depict the ghastly scenes she's forces to witness on a daily basis. She then hides her drawings where the NKVD, hopefully, won't find them. In this she hopes that, one day, someone will find the proof of what really occurred, and make sure that it never happens again. I'm going to warn you, a good deal of this book is very grim and Sepetys doesn't cover up the horrors that were committed against these innocent people with euphemisms. There are quite a few shocking, disturbing, and graphic scenes in this. You'll probably want to read something light and fluffy after finishing it. But much like the title of the book and the fledging plant sprouting up from the ice covered landscape on the book's cover signifies hope, the author does a wonderful job of incorporating snippets of hope even through the most grim of times for her characters. Interspersed with Lina's time in the slavery camps, there are bittersweet flashbacks to Lina's life before her and her family were taken by the Soviets. I think they helped to break up the scenes of abuse and heartache, making the novel more palatable to the reader. There is also a light romance in this that is both sweet and a welcome addition to a story such as this. FAVORITE QUOTE: "I shut the bathroom door and caught sight of my face in the mirror. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade." Ruta Sepetys' writing is erudite, yet simple, and it flows very well. I just hope that this isn't one of those one-hit-wonder cases where the author has one story to tell and never writes anything again. I'd really like to read more from Sepetys, whether it be more stories such as this, or something completely different. On a side note, the finished, physical copy of this (I say it in this way because some people probably have an ARC or an ebook) is quite gorgeous. The jacket seems to be made of recycled paper, so it has a very natural, rustic look and feel to it. And it has deckled edges, my favorite. :) I think this is one of those books that will be highly praised by some (like myself), and sadly overlooked by others. It's easy to be distracted by the deluge of YA paranormal novels with the pretty covers and the pomp and heavy promotion, but, I assure you, Between Shades of Gray is more than worth your reading time. This book reminds me just how fortunate I am to be born in the era and country that I was, and I found it very humbling. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it, and I highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barbie

    My thoughts in a nutshell Between Shades of Gray is a harrowing read. My thoughts will be shorter this time because I couldn't say anything about this horrid occasion. :-( The story is about… Skip over this point if you don't like the sneak peek. A Lithuanian girl Lina and her family will be deported to Siberia. She has to learn to survive in a work camp without food or clean clothes. They have to work in terrible circumstances to avoid starvation. Lina is an artist. She draws everything that she My thoughts in a nutshell Between Shades of Gray is a harrowing read. My thoughts will be shorter this time because I couldn't say anything about this horrid occasion. :-( The story is about… Skip over this point if you don't like the sneak peek. A Lithuanian girl Lina and her family will be deported to Siberia. She has to learn to survive in a work camp without food or clean clothes. They have to work in terrible circumstances to avoid starvation. Lina is an artist. She draws everything that she experiences. She has only one dream. Lina wants to meet her father again. What impressed me the most It's one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful book I ever read. It was my first book from Ruta Sepetys but not last. I've read historical fiction very rarely because it makes me depressed. I just do not understand why such merciless people live on Earth. Why did innocent people die? Why were innocent lives need to be taken? I don't know the answer. Nobody knows. This story is about everything. The most important feeling in the book is wanting to live. I loved all of the characters, even the grumpy old man. I connected to everyone especially Lina. She is such a strong heroine. I was anxious about what will happen to them. Lina is a teenager and her brother is a little kid, he is only 11 years old. They had to grow up very early. If they don't grow up, they will die. If they don't work hard, they will starve to death. If they don't follow the rules they will die. If they aren't strong enough, they will die. If they aren't persistent, they will die. They have no choice. The ending was bittersweet. I really like the author's note. Ruta has done huge research work. I appreciated it. Ruta Sepetys' writing style is gorgeous. I've read this book so quickly even though it had a hard topic. Ruta teaches me to be thankful for every little thing in my life. I'm very grateful to live in such good circumstances. Make a conclusion I gave it 4 stars, and I rounded up to 4.5 stars because of the author's note. Ruta did an amazing job. I would love to read more from her. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know what happened in the past. Atmosphere collage aka. how did I imagine the book vibes?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    I don’t know what the educational plan looks like in other Canadian provinces – it should be quite similar to Quebec’s – but where I went to high school we learned so little about the social consequences of World War II, so I’m grateful I have books like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY to enlighten me on the subject. Here’s the thing: this is different from Ruta Sepetys’ other novels. Maybe because it’s her first one, I don’t know, but suffice it to say, it’s not as impossible to put down. Because it foc I don’t know what the educational plan looks like in other Canadian provinces – it should be quite similar to Quebec’s – but where I went to high school we learned so little about the social consequences of World War II, so I’m grateful I have books like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY to enlighten me on the subject. Here’s the thing: this is different from Ruta Sepetys’ other novels. Maybe because it’s her first one, I don’t know, but suffice it to say, it’s not as impossible to put down. Because it focuses so much on the psychological and social ramifications of World War II, the plot is rather slow and uneventful. Lina, her brother and her mother are sent to a labour camp in Siberia, where they are forced to work for food. Lina wants desperately to find her father, who was sent to prison for treasonous behaviour. People are dying every day. Some are killed, some kill themselves. The war is hard on everyone but Lina knows she needs to be strong if she wants to ever see her father again. See, it’s less about the politics and more about the social. After all, whole communities of people are suddenly uprooted and forced into slavery… starved… beaten… rapped… killed. It’s a very emotional story. Ruta Sepetys is an extraordinary writer. I hope she will write for many years to come. This book has been recommended to me by dozens of people, so I’m happy I finally gave it a chance. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Exactly a year before, the Soviets have begun moving troops over the borders into the country. Then, in August, Lithuania was officially annexed into the Soviet Union. When I complained at the dinner table, Papa yelled at me and told me to never, ever say anything derogatory about the Soviets. He sent me to my room. I didn’t say anything out loud after that. But I thought about it a lot. Despite her father’s caution, 15-year-old Lena Vilkas, her 10-year-old brother Jonas and their mother Elena ar Exactly a year before, the Soviets have begun moving troops over the borders into the country. Then, in August, Lithuania was officially annexed into the Soviet Union. When I complained at the dinner table, Papa yelled at me and told me to never, ever say anything derogatory about the Soviets. He sent me to my room. I didn’t say anything out loud after that. But I thought about it a lot. Despite her father’s caution, 15-year-old Lena Vilkas, her 10-year-old brother Jonas and their mother Elena are charged as criminals and arrested in their home in Lithuania by Soviet officers. Lena’s Papa didn’t return from work the previous day and they don’t even know if he’s alive. The three of them are forced into a train car with forty-six other people, mostly women and children. Among them are Ona and her newborn baby, taken from the hospital just as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, Miss. Grybas, a perfectly harmless spinster teacher, a mean bald man, supposedly a stamp collector, Mrs. Arvydas, wife of a murdered Lithuanian officer, and her 17-year-old son Andrius, who has to pretend to be feeble-minded in order to stay with his mother. Needless to say, they are all treated like cattle. After spending more than 8 weeks in the train car with only two buckets of water and a bucket of food a day for all of them, they arrive to a beet farm where they’re expected to work all day, most of them digging in frozen ground with hand shovels and bare hands. For months they have nothing but hunger and disease in labor camp, and just when they think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they get moved to Siberia - supposedly to build a factory, but in reality, they’re just expected to die. Lena’s story is powerful for many reasons. Of course none of us can stay indifferent to a story about so much suffering and Ruta Sepetys chose a very smart way to tell it. Her writing is very matter of fact, her sentences are short and to the point. She allowed herself very little emotion, thus giving the reader a chance to fill in the gaps. I think it was the only way to tell such a horrendous story without overdoing it. When I finished this book last night, I was completely grief-stricken. I thought: “What am I supposed to do now? Am I supposed to just stand up and walk around like I didn’t just take a long, hard look at the ugliest side of humanity?” For the first time in my life, I felt that my education has failed me. How is it possible that we just went around all this, barely mentioning it? We dedicated so much time to Hitler and his victims (and we should have), but we’re talking about 20 million people here! 20 million people they just omitted to tell us about. I’m not saying I was completely clueless about it all, far from it, but I was never really confronted with it. And I absolutely needed to be. I think everyone should read Between Shades of Gray. Saying that it will help you appreciate the little things sounds like a horrible cliché, but it’s also undeniably true. Just get ready to be crushed into pieces by all the atrocities and suffering this relatively short book describes.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    I was so taken by the story of Lina and her family and all of the others that came to life here as they were deported from their homes in Lithuania, by Stalin's Russians to a work camp in Siberia. It's a devastatingly sad story of fictional characters but what makes it even more heartbreaking is that this story reflects a true story of a genocide that took the lives of over 20 million people . I am especially saddened by the fact that I knew pretty much nothing about it and I am grateful to the I was so taken by the story of Lina and her family and all of the others that came to life here as they were deported from their homes in Lithuania, by Stalin's Russians to a work camp in Siberia. It's a devastatingly sad story of fictional characters but what makes it even more heartbreaking is that this story reflects a true story of a genocide that took the lives of over 20 million people . I am especially saddened by the fact that I knew pretty much nothing about it and I am grateful to the author for telling it. It's so hard to imagine that this is a piece of history that is so little known and I can't help but think - how can that be? This is a remarkable story for so many reasons . It's categorized as YA and it is simply and well written in short chapters but by no means does it lighten the load of what happened here . I would say that this should not be missed by any adult who thinks this will be a light depiction of the horrific events . I fell in love with these characters - Lina , and her mother, and her brother Jonas and we see so much of their father through Lina's flashbacks and of course wonderful Andrius. I was struck by the real dichotomy between what was happening to them and the happy, beautiful life they had before which is depicted in Lina's flashbacks - the comfort , joy and beauty vs the vile conditions, sadness , ugliness and death . What remains constant is Lina's passion for her art , a sign of her hope. I am grateful to Ruta Sepetys for giving me this story and enlightening me to the horrors that occurred because in doing so she has also given a glimpse at the strength of a people that allowed for hope and the ability to see "A tiny sliver of gold...between shades of gray on the horizon." I am also grateful to my GR friend Tracey who waited patiently to discuss the book as I was behind in starting on our planned date

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    'Now my heart sank into my stomach where the bile began to chew it.' Step on my heart, cut it wide open, rub it with salt and feed it to the sharks.. Or just make me read this book, because this is how it feels like reading this story. How can I call “wonderful” a book full of so many horrors? ...But I will, because it really is, and what pains me the most is that it's all true, that this is a really tiny part of the darkest piece of our history as human beings. You thought this was repugnant?! We 'Now my heart sank into my stomach where the bile began to chew it.' Step on my heart, cut it wide open, rub it with salt and feed it to the sharks.. Or just make me read this book, because this is how it feels like reading this story. How can I call “wonderful” a book full of so many horrors? ...But I will, because it really is, and what pains me the most is that it's all true, that this is a really tiny part of the darkest piece of our history as human beings. You thought this was repugnant?! Well, think again because this was only the beginning. What was left unspoken is what repugnance is really about. I will confess that I was bracing myself for worse and even though for many of you some scenes were horrifying, I know that this was nothing compared with the horrors that have happened in that period of time. We learn about it in school, we know about it from books, there are movies and documentaries that will break your heart, because (I repeat) nothing hurts more than knowing that these things happened, it's not fiction - it's history, one written in blood and suffering... and death. This story touched me in a way I could barely explain. I felt so much disgust and anger that I could tear the book apart. It gave me so many goose bumps that I didn't remember for a quite while how smooth skin felt like. Yes, you were all right; this is a powerful story, full of emotion, that will make your soul bleed and your eyes tear. It's strange how can you find love and hope in such a hopeless place... The story was not as brutal as I thought it would be, but it broke my heart in many other ways: It was their hope that broke me down, their smiles, their jokes, and Lina's memories from long gone happy times (As a side note I should mention how much I loved the transition from present to past, how one scene melted into another, how the past faded right in front of my eyes). It was the love that killed me softly, it was seeing that those broken hearts could still find inside them the force to care when there wasn't almost any good left for them in the world. And it was their force to keep going that made me love this book, because they were stronger when their body was weak, when their life was fading away, when they still held tightly to their dreams - even though they knew those were never to come true again. The cover is absolutely perfect - It shows all the hope that filled their hearts, even when some of them were giving up their last breath. It reveals a piece of the settling, but also it shows that in all that coldness with which they were treated very few people showed them (just a bit of) mercy. The characters are so complex and they bring so much into this story - from the bald man with his pessimistic thoughts, to the little children so full of life and hope (too young, too innocent to know the cruelty of this world). It moved me how dramatically all those people changed through the story: kids had to grow up and help the others in order to survive, old people had to hold on to their memories to keep going, parents had to sacrifice everything for their children. They had to keep inside their fury, their hate and their shame. They had to keep their head down even though they were the ones deserving respect, because even when they had nothing at all, they still had hope and they fought for their life at all costs. I need to mention Lina an Andrius, as their love was sparkling like a tiny star thought the darkest, clouded night sky. It gave hope and strength and made my heart ache just a little bit less. "Andrius, I'm ... scared" He stopped and turned to me. "No. Don't be scared. Don't give them anything, Lina, not even your fear." Through the story, Lina saw the world and she described it in her sketches. Drawing was a way to express her fear, the injustice, the pain and the ache. That was her way of coping; gathering strength through her hope that some day her father will be able to reach them. I'll leave you now with some of my favorite quotes as I don't have the force to describe this book any longer. This is not a story that you can talk about; you can only read it between tears and maybe find some colors between so many shades of gray. “I’ll see you” “Are you really on page 300 or are you skipping ahead now?” “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.” Reviewer notes: I loved the author notes as they gave so much depth to the story and now I feel the need to leave my owns notes here, because even though I can't really conceive so much suffering, I can at least somehow understand it (though probably on a lower level that I might even think). “How could Stalin simply take something that didn’t belong to him, something that a farmer and his family had worked their whole life for?” “That’s communism, Lina”, Papa said. Living in a country placed between Germany and Russia, our history has been marked (with dark ink) by those two as well. I know what communism means and I even know a bit how it 'felt'. I was too young to understand what was happening but old enough to keep memories of my grandparents working the field each day, but only being allowed to keep some (very few) fruitage for themselves. But if for me it is sad to think about those times when we were only allowed to buy rations of food (like half of a bread a day), I can't even conceive how hard it might have been for those people that were 'unlucky' enough to be thrown in the middle of that madness described in this book, forced to work in such horrible conditions, humiliated and treated like animals, and even die horrible deaths while nobody cared. As the author says, there is nothing that we can do now to change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can prevent such horrors from ever happening again. PS: While reading the book I listened to the soundtrack, which is as amazing as the story itself and I recommend it with all my heart. This review can also be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com ____________________________________________ Blog (EN) | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin' | Blog (RO) ____________________________________________ Later Edit: Movie? Really?! Oh.. I don't know if to be happy or scared. I LOVED the book, hopefully I will enjoy it on the big screen too ^_^

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    Um... so I'm a bit torn on this one but I'm going to rate it 3.5 stars. I think what made it worse was all the bloody hype (like with Matched) that made me think this was going to blow my mind and it kind of just, well, didn't. It was an interesting history lesson. My knowledge of Soviet activities was previously more political than social and anything I did know of the more personal impact on people's lives was what I'd gained from German museums telling the story of the Berlin wall. It's true Um... so I'm a bit torn on this one but I'm going to rate it 3.5 stars. I think what made it worse was all the bloody hype (like with Matched) that made me think this was going to blow my mind and it kind of just, well, didn't. It was an interesting history lesson. My knowledge of Soviet activities was previously more political than social and anything I did know of the more personal impact on people's lives was what I'd gained from German museums telling the story of the Berlin wall. It's true that the Baltic countries often slip our minds and not much thought is given to the horrors that went on there during the reign of Stalin; bearing that in mind, the Lithuanian perspective was fresh and interesting, not the typical story of oppression under communism. This I liked. But I'm not going to overlook the fact that I spent the first two thirds of the book just waiting for it to be over and thinking it another highly-anticipated disappointment. The story mainly consisted of two cramped journies in a cart and a struggle to survive starvation, scurvy and whatever else on a daily ration of 300g of bread. It was awful, I get that, truly it was... but in a novel you expect something more gripping. Maybe the author tamed down the harshness for a young adult audience but the result was a mostly drab and boring story. That being said, there were sad and moving moments that did manage to somewhat redeem the novel. I also liked the love story subplot going on, mostly because I liked Andrius, it wasn't too much and remained in the background to the real story but it was nice. So, yeah, I was looking for something more out of this book, the story dragged too much. However, the author's note at the end made me cry.

  10. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    ruta sepetys has stated that when survivors are gone, we have the obligation to not let the truth disappear with them. that we need to give them a voice. and i think she does that so perfectly with this novel. what i really appreciated about this book in particular was the awareness brought to one aspect of WWII that tends to be forgotten. i see countless of stories about the atrocities hitler condoned against the jewish, and i think we all tend to get caught up in that that we forget there was m ruta sepetys has stated that when survivors are gone, we have the obligation to not let the truth disappear with them. that we need to give them a voice. and i think she does that so perfectly with this novel. what i really appreciated about this book in particular was the awareness brought to one aspect of WWII that tends to be forgotten. i see countless of stories about the atrocities hitler condoned against the jewish, and i think we all tend to get caught up in that that we forget there was more than one bad guy during that horrific time. its been estimated that stalin killed approximately 10+ million people he considered ‘enemies’ to the soviet via forced relocation/deportation to siberia. not only during the war, but many years after! and as much as linas story pained me to read, i am so very grateful for it. its stories like this that remind me of the importance of hope and resilience. and i cannot think of anything better to say than what she says herself, towards the end of her writings: ‘these writings may shock or horrify you, but that is not my intention. it is my greatest hope that these pages stir your deepest well of human compassion. i hope they prompt you to do something, to tell someone. only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself.’ 

may we always remember that. ↠ 4 stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    I will not go into the details of the story, nor will I offer my opinion regarding the events described. This is hardly the place for me to do something like that. Instead, I will comment upon how Ruta Sepetys' novel made me feel. I cannot remember the last time I cried over a novel. It must have been long ago. With Between Shades of Gray, it was hard to restrain myself from the very first chapters. During the last ten chapters, it became unbearable. Without spoiling a single thing, this book is I will not go into the details of the story, nor will I offer my opinion regarding the events described. This is hardly the place for me to do something like that. Instead, I will comment upon how Ruta Sepetys' novel made me feel. I cannot remember the last time I cried over a novel. It must have been long ago. With Between Shades of Gray, it was hard to restrain myself from the very first chapters. During the last ten chapters, it became unbearable. Without spoiling a single thing, this book is harrowing, nightmarish, dark. Is it really YA fiction? Hard to say, it depends on what each one of us define as YA fiction. Would I give it to my daughter if I had one? Absolutely, without any hesitation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jillian

    These writings may shock or horrify you, but that is not my intention. It is my greatest hope that the pages in this jar stir your deepest well of human compassion. I hope they prompt you to do something, to tell someone. Only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself. So I read this last night, and I went to work this morning. I was so deeply affected by this story, and my mind kept drifting back to Lina and Jonas and the countless real victims of the Baltic These writings may shock or horrify you, but that is not my intention. It is my greatest hope that the pages in this jar stir your deepest well of human compassion. I hope they prompt you to do something, to tell someone. Only then can we ensure that this kind of evil is never allowed to repeat itself. So I read this last night, and I went to work this morning. I was so deeply affected by this story, and my mind kept drifting back to Lina and Jonas and the countless real victims of the Baltic Deportations. When I finished the book, I immediately went on my computer and googled anything I could find out about the deportations. While the book itself devastated me, the outcome of my Baltic deportation research devastated me on a whole other level. I felt a mixture of anger and sadness but moreseo angry because how can human beings treat each other this way. How can a human be cruel for the sake of being cruel? But as I kept researching, I found that many of those who did survive confirmed that being kind and continuing to have faith and love in and for the human race reaffirmed what I learned reaching the end of Between Shades of Gray. Love and faith will always outweigh hate and cruelty. That the tenacity of the human spirit can make it through beatings, death, torture, starvation, and isolation. That a human can make through all those atrocities and still come out to the other side and want to live. I am so happy that I picked this up and I am happy that I am no longer ignorant to this piece of history that had been hidden for too long. This is truly remarkable and one of the best and most important books I have ever read. Here is a link to video interview with Ruta Sepetys who is the granddaughter of a Lithuanian refugee where she talks about the inspiration and history behind Between Shades of Gray. Please PLEASE watch it and PLEASE read Between Shades of Gray. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPiQ_...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elana

    (Edit, July 9, 2016: I was a pretentious 16-year-old when I wrote this review, lol. I'm 21 now and I'll be going back to edit it periodically.) Let me justify my seemingly harsh rating. First things first, let me provide you with some (probably not necessitated) background into my interest in this book: I am an avid studier of Lithuanian history. I have rigorously researched this time period prior to this book's creation, thus I was absolutely overjoyed when I got wind of its publishing. It's abo (Edit, July 9, 2016: I was a pretentious 16-year-old when I wrote this review, lol. I'm 21 now and I'll be going back to edit it periodically.) Let me justify my seemingly harsh rating. First things first, let me provide you with some (probably not necessitated) background into my interest in this book: I am an avid studier of Lithuanian history. I have rigorously researched this time period prior to this book's creation, thus I was absolutely overjoyed when I got wind of its publishing. It's about time that a "young adult" book chronicled the heinous acts of human evil that the Soviet Union committed against the Baltic peoples. This book was certainly a proverbial "eye-opener" for those who were unfamiliar with Lithuanian history. It was an immersive, interesting book with "relatable" (my reasoning behind the quotation marks will be addressed later) characters. But one qualm I had was the writing style. I am cognizant of the fact that this was Sepetys' debut novel, but the writing style felt almost detached to me. It was an itemization of Lina's torturous experience, as opposed to the immersive, detailed account I surmised a first person perspective would entail. In fact, the writing style did not allow me to get close enough to the characters to truly empathize with what was happening to her and her family. Even in the beginning, before most would assume that dissociation and other psychological trauma would kick in and truly prevent Lina from grasping the severity of her situation or being capable of detailing events, there were no details to attach me to her life. (view spoiler)[Even when her brother was sick, the narration did not show enough concern, anger or sadness to me. It was just another slew of barely described events that transpired. Additionally, I felt nearly nothing when her mother passed away; I was expecting to sob, as I am a very emotional, empathetic person, but the narration was so detached that it was difficult for me to cry for very long. Instead of grieving, I just moved onto the next page. (hide spoiler)] This narration style made basically every character flat to me, with no substance or meaning to me. The plot was moved forward by dialogue as opposed to narration, which provided no true insight into Lina's deepest emotions, feelings and thoughts. Thus, I felt as if the book would have fared better with a harsh critic such as myself if it were in third person objective. That way, it would have been safe to abstain from revealing Lina's thoughts, as opposed to pretty much avoiding them in favor of utilizing dialogue to encapsulate her feelings. Additionally, the gratuitous usage of capital letters, multiple exclamation points and italicized text to represent flashbacks was irritating; those are the signs of drafting stages to me. While it is most likely just personal preference, I am very stringent upon the utilization of capital letters. To me, they are used solely when merely italicizing dialogue or a word just isn't enough to express how crucial the idea is. Capitalizing words on basically every page is distracting and, honestly, makes me think of an elementary school child writing a story sans the knowledge of using italics. I know I am being very harsh. Also, the representation of long flashbacks via italics was unnecessary. Sure, for a truncated flashback (view spoiler)[(such as the repeated one with the "return" of Lina's father at the end) (hide spoiler)] this would have been fine, but some of these flashbacks were multiple, consecutive pages. It was an annoyance to the eyes and was useless, as Sepetys could have opted to make those flashbacks into separate chapters, so long as Lina provided insight into their being flashbacks. My final grievance lies in the ending; it seemed very abrupt. (view spoiler)[We were never told the fate of a few of Lina's compatriots, and it seemed as if one year's account of Lina's experience was not enough to truly encompass what happened (hide spoiler)] . It was almost as if Sepetys has simply run out of ideas and decided to end it there. However, despite my harsh review, this book was definitely powerful and deeply moving. I did enjoy it, cry over it, and store it on my bookshelf for future rereading, but it did not touch me in the way I initially assumed it would. I would recommend this book to my friends solely because I want them to read an interesting account of the Lithuanian deportations as opposed to the itemized history books I read myself, but that would be the only reason. It is not on a young adult's reading level, despite it being a very adult-themed book; it is much, much simpler.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

    What a powerfully poignant story. Really unexpected and unique, but so so important. Video review to come!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Thank you Lisa.... and many others on Goodreads. For some reason because I had read the book “Salt to Sea”, by Ruta Sepetys, years ago - an engrossing WWII about a devastating tragedy - I had a pre-conceived thought that this book was either an extension - or wouldn’t be much different. They have similarities in that they are both suspense survival stories during WWII, which are both written with emotional vigor - but the stories themselves are different. With only three days left before this bo Thank you Lisa.... and many others on Goodreads. For some reason because I had read the book “Salt to Sea”, by Ruta Sepetys, years ago - an engrossing WWII about a devastating tragedy - I had a pre-conceived thought that this book was either an extension - or wouldn’t be much different. They have similarities in that they are both suspense survival stories during WWII, which are both written with emotional vigor - but the stories themselves are different. With only three days left before this book was due back at my library - ( ebook Overdrive)....and thankful to the email-reminder the library sends us - warning we still have time to read the book before they snatch it away - I did just that....read this before the library snatched it away. The first sentence hooks you in - “THEY TOOK ME IN MY NIGHTGOWN”. It’s a young-adult book which reads fast - yet it’s a tragic journey. Lena was 15 - her brother 10 at the start of this story. Taken away by the Soviets with her parents - an NKVD officer didn’t hesitate to slam the butt of his rifle into the children’s mother’s body and throw her face into a mirror. The secret Soviet Police burst into their home at night- they had 30 seconds pack a bag before they were taken. They were tossed on a train like cattle. There was a newborn that had only been alive for minutes and she was already considered a criminal. It was a full decade before Lina ever saw the reflection of her own face in a mirror. In 1939, The Soviet union occupied the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Anyone who was considered anti-Soviet, where either murdered, sent to prison, or deported into slavery in Siberia. People from every walks of life were taken. This is a story about how this family and others escaped to refugee camps. Children grew up in these camps - Lina ( our brave young heroine found ways to channel her fear and grief by expressing herself through art, and music. The author did thorough research and even though the characters themselves were fictional the history isn’t. Josef Stalin killed more than twenty million people during the ruling of this horror. Excellent - heart piercing Young Adult historical fiction! A strong 5 star YA Holocaust novel. Gotta admire authors who write serious historical novels aimed towards our youth. Adults benefit as well. I certainly didn’t hurt me at all to read another story - well written about the Holocaust. It won’t be my last either. I’ve said many times.... WAR is WAR is WAR...... and sometimes it’s about humanity - hope - the human spirit- and love. Love played a pivotal role in keeping the survivals alive.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Well done, Ruta Sepetys! A great book. Heartbreaking, but nicely written. This book is a novel, but is actually based on history, during WWII. this story is written from the perspective of a teenager named Lina. she and her family are taken from their home in Lithuania by the Soviets. This story tracks the next year plus of all hardships they go through. The labor camps, the illnesses that struck, the deaths of fellow Lithuanians, cruel degrading treatment and more. Much is known about Hitler's Well done, Ruta Sepetys! A great book. Heartbreaking, but nicely written. This book is a novel, but is actually based on history, during WWII. this story is written from the perspective of a teenager named Lina. she and her family are taken from their home in Lithuania by the Soviets. This story tracks the next year plus of all hardships they go through. The labor camps, the illnesses that struck, the deaths of fellow Lithuanians, cruel degrading treatment and more. Much is known about Hitler's reign, but what about those sent to Stalin? What of the voices never heard? This is one of those voices, crying out after all these years. The imagery if vivid. You see how lives are lived, you see the love and pain and sorrow. But it is more than that. you feel it. this book literally moved me to tears. The is a hint of romance, and much community love. There is loss and heartbreak. There is pain and suffering. There is hope. The characters are endearing and so well done. Lina is one amazing young woman with all she endures. If you are looking for a happy, upbeat book, this is not it. This novel shows how Lithuanians (and other people too) were treated during the war. Mind you, yes there were worse treatments but this one touches on a real, person level that can never be unseen once read. It is well paced, and starts off with a bang with the Soviets coming for the girls family right at the beginning. It is brutally honest. It is not always easy writing about such treatment from a young teenagers perspective, but this captured it perfectly. My only complaint to the book is the chapters were too short and I wish I could have continued on Lina's story a little longer. You'll be rooting for her though the whole thing! *I won this as a First-Read giveaway on goodreads.com. all thoughts and opinions of this review are strictly my own.*

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hirdesh

    “I tried to sketch but couldn’t. When I started to draw, the pencil moved by itself, propelled by something hideous that lived inside of me.” Oh my goodness ! Perfect Historical fiction book. It's more than my expectations and quite contemplate with "The Thousand splendid suns". Praiseworthy one, Enjoyed every word. Words and ratings on here couldn't exactly defines this book........ Ruta Sepetys, I Love You ! ! ! What a splendid writing and expressions of Lina, she has made. Just like she has exper “I tried to sketch but couldn’t. When I started to draw, the pencil moved by itself, propelled by something hideous that lived inside of me.” Oh my goodness ! Perfect Historical fiction book. It's more than my expectations and quite contemplate with "The Thousand splendid suns". Praiseworthy one, Enjoyed every word. Words and ratings on here couldn't exactly defines this book........ Ruta Sepetys, I Love You ! ! ! What a splendid writing and expressions of Lina, she has made. Just like she has experienced that. Wonderful, heartthrobing story. Lina, how she has survived and fight for life not only her and others too. Whole catastrophic journey revealed in well written and exceptional echos of herself inside as well as in her drawings. *“We'd been trying to touch the sky from the bottom of the ocean.” *“Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness. There's love and emotion trying to express itself, but at the time, it just ends up being awkward.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    This is such a powerful story, and a subject that I knew nothing about. Most people know about the atrocities of Hitler's reign, especially those perpetrated against Jewish people. But in this novel Sepetys examines the lesser known genocide of hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians, and other Baltic peoples, under Stalin during the same time as the Holocaust. It's tragic and horrifying and such an important read. I'll admit that for a book aimed at young adults, Sepetys doesn't pull any punches, This is such a powerful story, and a subject that I knew nothing about. Most people know about the atrocities of Hitler's reign, especially those perpetrated against Jewish people. But in this novel Sepetys examines the lesser known genocide of hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians, and other Baltic peoples, under Stalin during the same time as the Holocaust. It's tragic and horrifying and such an important read. I'll admit that for a book aimed at young adults, Sepetys doesn't pull any punches, but I think that's vital to make clear the injustices and to put the reader in these characters shoes. It had me squirming in my seat and opened my eyes a little bit more to history and also to the stories of real people. Yes, it's fiction, but it's something that countless people went through. Those experiences are real even if this particular story is not. I could've done without the added bit of romance, but I also think it humanized the characters more (while also being a tried and true YA trope). Overall though I thought this book was impactful and engaging, and I can't wait to see it adapted to film later this year.

  19. 5 out of 5

    emma

    sure whatever i didn't need the remaining scraps of my heart to be operational a n y w a y this, like the other ruta sepetys book i've read, Salt to the Sea, focuses on an extremely tragic historical event that is semi-forgotten, or at least not discussed often enough. in this case, it's Stalin's mid-twentieth century deportation of millions of people in the Baltic states. this book is sad, sad, sad, impressive, well-written, and extremely important. and also so sad. if historical fiction isn't you sure whatever i didn't need the remaining scraps of my heart to be operational a n y w a y this, like the other ruta sepetys book i've read, Salt to the Sea, focuses on an extremely tragic historical event that is semi-forgotten, or at least not discussed often enough. in this case, it's Stalin's mid-twentieth century deportation of millions of people in the Baltic states. this book is sad, sad, sad, impressive, well-written, and extremely important. and also so sad. if historical fiction isn't your cup of tea but you're open to giving it a shot, this is a great book to try. there were some flaws, sure. for one thing, i'm sorry (kinda) but romantic plotlines just detract more often than they add for me. the ending also felt kind of abrupt and inconclusive, and huge swaths of time were skipped, which was v confusing for a book that really follows a historical timeline. but overall this book is pretty crucial. bottom line: a great great great great great example of how important and worthwhile and impressive YA historical fiction can be.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I think I may have made a mistake reading this on audio, as I didn't find it as compelling as most. I found the narrators tone very off from themes of the story, which left me separated from it. This largely unknown history was very interesting and tragic, by I didn't feel the close connection to the narrative that many did, due to the version I read it in.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    This is an extraordinary book and I am so pleased to have read it. It deals with a subject I knew very little about, it has no introduction and it has the tiniest of conclusions. The bulk of the book is about human endurance in unbearable conditions and it is amazing. Surprisingly, despite the sadness of the topic, there are many uplifting moments and it is very hard to put the book down. I now have to go find out more about this horrific time in our history which I am sure is was what the autho This is an extraordinary book and I am so pleased to have read it. It deals with a subject I knew very little about, it has no introduction and it has the tiniest of conclusions. The bulk of the book is about human endurance in unbearable conditions and it is amazing. Surprisingly, despite the sadness of the topic, there are many uplifting moments and it is very hard to put the book down. I now have to go find out more about this horrific time in our history which I am sure is was what the author hoped for when she wrote it. Read it. You will not be sorry you did.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Powerful! Tough to read, but an interesting take on a part of history we hear little about. I have seen lots of reviews where people feel this book ends abruptly (maybe spoiler-ish stuff ahead), but I felt like it was showing that all they needed was someone to show them some compassion before all was lost.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Norma * Traveling Sister

    Hope * Survival * Love * Faith Well that was another enlightening, emotional, and an absolutely awesome 5* read! BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by RUTA SEPETYS is a deeply moving, compelling, heart-wrenching, and a powerful read which is beautifully written that captured my heart from the very first chapter. This was definitely another page-turner and extremely hard to put down. “A tiny sliver of gold appeared between shades of gray on the horizon.”    BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a brilliant title for this n Hope * Survival * Love * Faith Well that was another enlightening, emotional, and an absolutely awesome 5* read! BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by RUTA SEPETYS is a deeply moving, compelling, heart-wrenching, and a powerful read which is beautifully written that captured my heart from the very first chapter. This was definitely another page-turner and extremely hard to put down. “A tiny sliver of gold appeared between shades of gray on the horizon.”    BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a brilliant title for this novel. If we are able to see beyond the black and white of the immoral behaviour we just might be able to see a little bit of human kindness peaking out between the many shades of gray. “Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.” BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY has us following along the story of Lina, a fifteen-year old girl along with her mother and brother who are deported from Lithuania to Siberia in 1941 by the NKVD, Soviet Secret Police covering a part of history that most people are not familiar with. “Sure we were safe.  Safe in the arms of hell.” I really enjoyed the format of this novel which was written in very short chapters and narrated in the voice of Lina. RUTA SEPETYS delivers another unforgettable story here that was easy to follow along with the storyline and all the characters involved. To sum it all up it was a well-researched, heartbreaking, shocking, and an emotional read with a tear-jerker but satisfying ending. Would recommend!! http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  24. 4 out of 5

    grace

    Finished this in a couple sittings. What a blow to the heart. So beautiful, devastating, and important.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tabetha

    Rating 4.5 Review: "'NKVD officers are walking by the train with rifles,' I said. 'There are some men in dark suits looking at the train cars.' We felt a jolt and the train began to move. 'There's luggage everywhere,' I said. 'And lots of food on the platform.' People groaned. The station looked eerie, desolate, frozen with only remnants of the chaos that had taken place. There were single shoes strewn about, a cane, a woman's purse lying open, and an orphaned teddy bear...'There's a priest. He's Rating 4.5 Review: "'NKVD officers are walking by the train with rifles,' I said. 'There are some men in dark suits looking at the train cars.' We felt a jolt and the train began to move. 'There's luggage everywhere,' I said. 'And lots of food on the platform.' People groaned. The station looked eerie, desolate, frozen with only remnants of the chaos that had taken place. There were single shoes strewn about, a cane, a woman's purse lying open, and an orphaned teddy bear...'There's a priest. He's praying. A man is holding a large crucifix.' The priest looked up, flung oil, and made the sign of the cross as our train rolled away. He was issuing last rites." I never wanted this book to end, and it is such a quick read because it is completely riveting from start to finish. Although it is a Young Adult book, it does not sugar coat the horrors experienced by 15 year old Lina and her family, persecuted as political prisoners when the Soviet occupied and annexed Lithuania (1940-1941). In fact, there are several shocking, completely heartbreaking, scenes. Lina has dreams of becoming an artist, but soon after she is recognized as the artist she could become, her entire life, and that of her family, changes in an instant. Her father is taken and imprisoned, while Lina, her mother and brother are taken forcibly and placed on trains, unsuitable even for animals, then taken to work camps, ending their journey in the most remote part of Siberia, camps that came to be called "death camps". This story has hopeful and beautiful moments, including those times when fellow prisoners in the camp show compassion and help others during outbreaks of severe sickness, and when those same prisoners demonstrate super human strength, even as their bodies are beginning to decline. Throughout the story, Lina's growth during the stages of her imprisonment is truly inspiring; she enters as a girl but is forced to grow up quickly during this period of extreme imprisonment. I read the history of the actual events while reading this book, and there are countless victims from the mass deportations ordered by Stalin. There are also incredible survivor stories, of those who survived the time when the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were threatened by a dictator who carried out mass deportations, and, in effect, genocide, of "the enemies of the people".

  26. 4 out of 5

    ``Laurie Henderson

    If you enjoy historical fiction or young adult books I think you'll be interested in reading this one. "Between Shades of Gray" brings to light a period of WW2 history that has been overlooked or forgotten; set in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Before the 2nd WW began the Communist dictator Stalin, knew war with the Nazi's was looming and had concerns about the Baltic countries abilities to protect the Russian border from Hitler. So he invades them and arrests all lawyers, If you enjoy historical fiction or young adult books I think you'll be interested in reading this one. "Between Shades of Gray" brings to light a period of WW2 history that has been overlooked or forgotten; set in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Before the 2nd WW began the Communist dictator Stalin, knew war with the Nazi's was looming and had concerns about the Baltic countries abilities to protect the Russian border from Hitler. So he invades them and arrests all lawyers, teachers, professors, doctors and others of this ilk sending all of them to Siberia along with their entire family, repopulating the Baltic states with Russians. Lina, a young teenage girl living in Lithuania, father is arrested and soon she and her mother and younger brother are herded onto trains heading to Siberia eventually winding up in the Artic Circle. Lina's family somehow manages to keep their humanity while facing death and starvation all around them. Ultimately this is an uplifting tale even with all the horrors they face and a triumph for the good in mankind. Lina doesn't feel sorry for herself and pout when things don't go her way, she's too busy trying to stay alive. History has mainly forgotten the sufferings of the Baltic States which is a shame. Ruta Sepetys's family hails from Lithuania and she brings this tragic era in history to life. I will certainly be reading more of her books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Margitte

    I have been reading books about the Siberian experience through many years, written by either survivors or observers. Each time I am confronted with the absolute horror of the people's destinies, I want to lash out and scream until someone would listen and make amends. Scream! Scream! Scream! And then break down and cry my heart out. AUTHOR’S NOTE "It is estimated that Josef Stalin killed more than twenty million people during his reign of terror. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estoni I have been reading books about the Siberian experience through many years, written by either survivors or observers. Each time I am confronted with the absolute horror of the people's destinies, I want to lash out and scream until someone would listen and make amends. Scream! Scream! Scream! And then break down and cry my heart out. AUTHOR’S NOTE "It is estimated that Josef Stalin killed more than twenty million people during his reign of terror. The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia lost more than a third of their population during the Soviet genocide. The deportations reached as far as Finland. To this day, many Russians deny they ever deported a single person. But most Baltic people harbor no grudge, resentment, or ill will. They are grateful to the Soviets who showed compassion. Their freedom is precious, and they are learning to live within it. For some, the liberties we have as American citizens came at the expense of people who lie in unmarked graves in Siberia. Like Joana for Lina, our freedom cost them theirs."This book is so wonderfully written, emotionally laden, mentally almost unbearable. I recently finished reading Secondhand Time: the last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich, Bela Shayevich (Translator). This is a non-fiction book, written by a Russian journalist about the very same memories of the older Russian generations who were there, in Siberia, and recollected the horrors, which confirm the experiences of Lina, her mother Elena, her younger brother, Jonas and their father, Kostas Vilkas. Lina is fifteen years old when they are abducted from their home and send to the Arctic Circle in Siberia. This is Lina's story. A young girl on the brink of life, being sent to a living death for twelve years. Her drawings and letters to her father kept her going. Her compassion and believe in the tiny sliver of gold which appeared between the shades of grey on the horizon at sunrise, pulled her through to share her story. The author used different records and interviews, from different survivors or their descendants to form the characters in this fictional tale. What distinguishes this book from Secondhand Time is that the journalistic element is absent, and the departure point is a fictional young girl telling her own story, based on true events. There's feeling in the book. And good people who lost their freedom and lives for other to live. There's a moral to be uphold, and a different kind of reader to reach. Secondhand Time was mentally and emotionally so disturbing that I could hardly read all the horrors the people had to endure. It was the same with Between Shades of Grey even though a different tone was applied to the narrative. An estimated 60 million people died during WWII. Yet, the lesson have not been learned. We just repeat the horrors over and over again, and 'little voices' of protest are ignored. Finishing this book, my heart was shattered. As a novel this book is brilliant. All the elements of a good story are present. A multitude of well-developed characters, a riveting story line, and a suspenseful plot. In my mind's eye I will forever see the hand of young Lina Vilkas waving in the millions of hands below, begging to be heard. We absolutely have to stop and listen. We have to honor their memory by reading their stories. YA. Yes, but compelling reading for adults as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    Wow! what a great read. This is a story very simply told about a Lithuanian Family sent to the Soviet work camps during the time of Stalin and the second world war. The horrors of what this family and so many ordinary families endured during the reign of Stalin is shocking and I am glad to be shocked as I think every reader should read a book like this as it is an education in so many ways. Although Shades of Gray is about a fictional family the story is the truth of what happened to many innocen Wow! what a great read. This is a story very simply told about a Lithuanian Family sent to the Soviet work camps during the time of Stalin and the second world war. The horrors of what this family and so many ordinary families endured during the reign of Stalin is shocking and I am glad to be shocked as I think every reader should read a book like this as it is an education in so many ways. Although Shades of Gray is about a fictional family the story is the truth of what happened to many innocent families. When I finished this novel I wanted to know more and did some research online to educate myself as I would not have been familiar with the history of the baltic states. Second read/ book club 2015

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.” 4.5 stars What a touching story! World War II brought misery to the world, it's common knowledge; However, what isn't though is how the life of the residents of the countries on USSR borders transformed. What they suffered, how much pain they went through and everything they had to endure, to survive. Told from the perspective of a young hopeful artist, Between Shades of Gray shows us t “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.” 4.5 stars What a touching story! World War II brought misery to the world, it's common knowledge; However, what isn't though is how the life of the residents of the countries on USSR borders transformed. What they suffered, how much pain they went through and everything they had to endure, to survive. Told from the perspective of a young hopeful artist, Between Shades of Gray shows us the strength of the human spirit and the value of holding onto faith, in a well-written novel that captures all the hardships, sorrows, and misfortunes that Lina Arvydas went through. They have 20 minutes to pack everything and leave. Lina, Jonas, and Elena are being deported from Lithuania to Siberia in 1941 after war declaration. This family is separated from the father yet Elena, Lina's mother, has never shown weakness, she's trying to help her children to get through this hard period. On their journey, they meet new people. They live with them for six weeks on a train and try to support each other later. There she meets Andrius, this young handsome boy. I'm not going tell you where they go or what exactly they went through, I'll let you read it for yourself. However, I'll tell you that they taste misery and heartache even agony. They don't give up and let their fear from the NKVD and the Soviets take over. “Don't be scared. Don't give them anything Lina, not even your fear.” I like Lina, most of the time at least. I don't have much to say about her but what I admire the most about her is how she has never even lost hope. She keeps telling herself that she'll see the one she loves one day. “Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness. There's love and emotion trying to express itself, but at the time, it just ends up being awkward.” I love Audrius. I just wished we could got more of him. It's just a wish because I comprehend the conditions and the circumstances completely. He is very realistic and always helps Lina and her family. We really shouldn't judge people before knowing their situation. And his mother... Poor woman. “Good men are often more practical than pretty " said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.” Jonas went through a lot for an eleven years old kid. He seems so much older than his age. However I expect that's what happens to people when they sustain a hard life on a very young age. Finally, regarding Elena she is a strong and a great woman. She is the voice of reason, of hope when everyone else is falling apart. Moreover, she is kind and good even to her enemies. Everybody loves her even the bald man. She always does her best to protect her children. She treats everyone with courtesy and understanding. In other words, she is a true krasivaya. I should also mention Nickolai. Even in our enemies, we can find some goodness. I like him, he has done his best. I want to know what happens to him. He is different from the others. I just wish that Lina figured it out sooner, but it doesn't matter anyway. “Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.” Finally, if you are a fan of historical novels especially those about World war II you're going to like this one.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sister

    4.5 stars!

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