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Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Reviewed by Angelisa P., 9th grade

Have you ever thought about what it would be like living in a labor camp after World War II? In Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys takes you back to Lithuania in 1941, and gives you the perspective of a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl, named Lina.

Lina is just an average girl who paints, draws, and gets crushes on boys. Until one day Soviet police come knocking at her door, taking her and her family away. She is separated from her father and forced into cattle cars with many other Lithuanians who are less capable of working, such as children, women, sick, and elderly.

Lina and all her cattle car-mates are taken to a labor camp very far north of their home. Lina, her mom, and her brother work all day to get a small bread ration, even though they don’t eat all of it themselves. They feed the sick and elderly before feeding themselves which nearly starves them. Lina must save them all and find her dad. Will her new friend help her out? There are so many questions that can’t be answered in one sentence.
I really enjoyed this book. When I read this book it made me feel everything the characters were feeling. That is what I look for in a book: Can I become the character? In this book, the characters were very realistic and everything that happened most likely happened to an actual child that once lived during this time period.  If I were Lina, the only thing different would be the faces, and even there it wouldn’t be much different because Sepetys is very descriptive and describes every detail as much as she can.   The setting is also very reasonable for this time in history as I have seen pictures and read about history books. My favorite part about the writing of the book was that I could easily create a movie in my head while I read it.

I loved this book and hope everyone else who reads it will, too.  This is great read for those who have already learned about this time period and who want to learn about. It gives you a personal perspective of someone who was a victim of this situation. I recommend this book to students in seventh grade to adults of any age. This gave me a new understanding of what happened after World War II, and some of the people who were involved in it. I hope I can share the greatness of this book with everyone who hasn’t read the book.



3 responses »

  1. Labor camp is the same thing as a concentration camp, right? It really fits in with our unit in ELA right now. We are learning sbout the holocaust. I think It would really expand our knowledge of the holocaust. This would be a great book for our class to read.

  2. You commented that what you look for in a book is “can I become the character?” That is a wonderful idea. I love interesting plots, but if I’m not interested in the character, or if I can’t relate to at least one character, I quickly lose interest. I am going to check out this book based on your recommendation.

  3. Angelisa,

    I looked at this book at the bookfair and decided against it. Now, based on your review I wish I had bought it! I am definitely going to look in Mrs. Severson’s room for it. Thanks for your review.


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