Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

Ruta Sepetys

fiction Historical Young Adult
emotional sad medium-paced

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Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

What the community thinks

summary of 1351 ratings (see reviews)


emotional 88%
sad 82%
dark 58%
challenging 47%
informative 47%
reflective 41%
tense 23%
hopeful 17%
inspiring 11%
adventurous 5%
mysterious 5%


medium 58%
fast 23%
slow 17%

Strong character development?

Yes: 85% | It's complicated: 7% | No: 7%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 71% | It's complicated: 28%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 41% | Yes: 33% | It's complicated: 16% | N/A: 8%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

No: 41% | Yes: 33% | It's complicated: 16% | N/A: 8%

Average rating


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