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Informative,
Insightful,
Inspiring

15 reviews

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys

Published: 2012-04-03
Paperback : 368 pages
14 members reading this now
48 clubs reading this now
7 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 15 of 15 members
"Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both."--The Washington Post

A New York Times notable book
An International Bestseller
A Carnegie Medal Nominee


Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet ...
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Introduction

"Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both."--The Washington Post

A New York Times notable book
An International Bestseller
A Carnegie Medal Nominee


Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life--until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

A moving and haunting novel for readers of The Book Thief

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

From the publisher:

1. The story of the Baltic people’s genoicide is a relatively unknown but important event in world history. Discuss why such an event could have so little awareness.
2. Lina unflinchingly shares the nature of the condition in which she and the other prisoners are forced to live. What feelings does this candor evoke in you?
3. What role does Andrius play in the story? In what ways is he a catalyst for the choices made by Lina and Jonas?
4. Using the phrase, “This is a story about…” supply five words to describe Between Shades of Gray. Explain your choices.

Suggested by Members

Compare Lina's experience in the camps with Anne Frank and her experiences.
Talk about what happened after the story ended.
by ccroft78248 (see profile) 04/10/16

Discuss the relative obscurity of Stalin's atrocities during WW II. Does this novel awaken hope or despair?
Why was the "bald man" never named? What did this symbolize?
by mabook (see profile) 05/15/11

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author Ruta Sepetys:

“I will tell you what happened, but only if you promise not to use my name.”

That is an excerpt from a letter I received from a woman, now in her eighties, who was arrested by the Soviet secret police when she was a teenager. She learned about Between Shades of Gray from a friend and realized she was one of many who shared the same secret.

The book chronicles the journey of fifteen-year-old Lina who risks everything, including the boy she loves, to save her family amidst Stalin’s terror. It’s a story of love, survival, and the miraculous power of the human spirit.

I am the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee and began the journey that is this novel several years ago when I visited the Baltics. In meeting with survivors of Stalin’s atrocities I learned things that would forever change my life. I was left with questions such as, “What does it take to bear the unbearable?” and “How do you keep hope alive?”

History holds secrets. I hope this story will give voice to the countless people who were affected by the horrors of the Soviet occupation and forced to remain silent for fifty years.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by [email protected] (see profile) 05/25/20

A very eye opening and inspiring book that shows strength and the will to live...

 
by [email protected] (see profile) 01/19/18

I can’t believe this was kept a secret for so long. Everyone needs to read this part of history.

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