Tag Archives: Lithuania

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


This was such a gorgeous and harrowing book. It is the story of 15 year old Lina, a promising artist with a close family who is taken in 1941 from her home in Lithuania by the Russians and put into a labor camp. She manages to stay with her mother and younger brother, but their father is taken seperately, and jailed far away from the rest of the family. Lina and her mother and brother are forced on a terrible journey in a dirty train car to Siberia. They form unique bonds with their fellow travellers, and everyone copes with the events in their own desperate way. They end up at a forced labor camp, and are cruelly worked with very little food. The illness and humiliation are horrible.

But somehow, Lina and her fellow prisoners find ways to survive. They steal food and firewood from the soldiers, they hold secret Christmas parties, and Lina draws pictures. She draws the people she has met, maps the places they have been taken, and hopes to pass these drawings along, person to person, until they reach her father in prison.

Lina also has a romance, with fellow prisoner Andrius. The circumstances are obviously not ideal for falling in love, but the two learn to help and trust each other. I loved their romance, and how they managed to communicate even when Lina gets taken to a new camp far away – with a book that Andrius gives her.

This was so well written. Such a good cry, and good history. It made real for me a period in history that gets skipped over in school. A period in history none of us should forget.

Also loved all the comments about the artist Munch. He’s Lina’s favorite, and she talks about him and his work all the time, and draws strength from it.

Gorgeous book, and something I think people need to read. Good for a large range of ages, but it does get a bit graphic in parts, describing all they go through.