“Between Shades of Gray” book review

A NY Times Notable Book, a Carnegie Medal Nominee and Winner of The Golden Kite Award

Jerry Caldwell, owner of The Coffee Shelf recommended this book to me and I’m so glad I listened to his suggestion.

This NY Times bestseller by author Ruth Sepetys tells the story of fifteen-year-old Lina and her family.

They live in Lithuania in June 1941 when the Soviet secret police arrest Lina and her family. They are taken from their home in a cattle car to Siberia with thousands of other Lithuanians.

Lina is a talented and aspiring artist. She uses her drawings to send, what she hopes, are secret messages to her father who was also arrested, but is separated from them. She places clues within the drawings.

What I loved about this book:

  • It’s rare to find a story about the history of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States.
  • The author’s grandfather was an officer in the Lithuanian army. He was able to escape when Stalin began executing military officers – her personal connection adds so much to the story.
  • The Author’s Notes, interview and discussion questions in the back of the book make this a great pick for book clubs.
  • Short chapters
  • Map and timeline
  • Published in 2011, this book is available in all formats.

“They took me in my nightgown.

Thinking back, the signs were there –family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.

We were taken.”

Between Shades of Gray, Ruth Sepetys

I enthusiastically recommend this book to fans of historic fiction or anyone who wants to get lost in a good story.

Happy Reading!


  1. Great review! And thanks so much for the shout-out to The Coffee Shelf.

    I’m happy you enjoyed this, though I kinda knew you would. 🙂


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