Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray

“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

In the mesmerizing debut novel by Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Gray follows 15-year-old Lina, who is living in Lithuania in the early 1940s. One night, the Soviet secret police barge into her home and take her, her mother, and her younger brother Jonas and load them onto a train headed for Siberia. They are separated from their father, who has been sentenced to death. All is lost.

Lena, however, refuses to give up. Through secret messages coded in art that she passes along to people in the hopes that they will reach her father before he is executed, Lena vows to honor her family through striving to survive. It is a long, exhausting journey, and only their strength, love for each other and will to live keep them going day in and day out. But is it enough to keep them alive?

In the words of Alyssa Slovin, a freshman, “The book illustrates that strong willed people who have something to fight for make great main characters and that’s what makes this book so realistic-the characters are ultimately relatable.”

Sepetys creates a beautiful balance between the horror and pain that war and family separation brings, while still keeping hope a prominent factor in the story to keep readers from falling into a crushing despair that could change someone’s viewpoint on the story overall.

Another freshman says, “Between Shades of Gray is a great book that appeals to both genders. There is a touch of romance for those who appreciate that in a story but there are also enough facts to appeal to people who like a storyline with truth behind it.”

Between Shades of Gray is a great book when looking for something that makes you think about the world around you, what things are worth fighting for, and the true power of hope.