Between Shades of Gray
Between Shades of Gray

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Annotation: In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina and her family are sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp, and she vows to honor her family andothers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil.
Catalog Number: #49070
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: 344 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-242059-X Perma-Bound: 0-605-49093-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-242059-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-49093-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009050092
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina's great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them. A gifted artist, she begins secretly creating pictures that can e hopes surreptitiously sent to him in his own prison camp. Whether or not this will be possible, it is her art that will be her salvation, helping her to retain her identity, her dignity, and her increasingly tenuous hold on hope for the future. Many others are not so fortunate. Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, estimates that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their populations during the Russian genocide. Though many continue to deny this happened, Sepetys' beautifully written and deeply felt novel proves the reality is otherwise. Hers is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership.
Horn Book
In 1941 Lithuania, the Soviet secret police show up at fifteen-year-old Lina Vilkas's home. They throw Lina, her younger brother, and their mother onto a train bound for Siberia, beginning a decade-long nightmare. Sepetys creates complicated characters in her story of deprivation and suffering. Two excellent maps and an informative author's note round out this haunting chronicle.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up&12; It is 1941 and 15-year-old Lina and her family are arrested by the secret police and deported from Soviet-occupied Lithuania. Bound for Siberia, they travel across Europe and Asia in an overcrowded train car marked "Thieves and Prostitutes." After being separated from her father, Lina documents her experiences through drawings and letters that she passes along, hoping that they will somehow reach him. The journey takes Lina, her brother Jonas, and her mother over the Ural Mountains to a labor camp in Altai where they spend ten months. They are then moved to Trofimovsk, North Pole, where they are imprisoned indefinitely. Ruta Sepetys's excellent novel (Philomel, 2011) depicts a lesser-known aspect of World War II and its impact on the citizens of the Baltic States. Lina is a compelling protagonist, and her horrific experiences are based on the author's own family history. Emily Klein is more adept at voicing Lina's internal narration than the dialogue. For example, some characters sound jarringly robust even in the direst situations. Flashbacks to Lina's life before the deportation appear in italics in the print version, but because Klein doesn't vary her tone or tempo, it's difficult for listeners to determine when they begin and end. Also, the print edition includes helpful maps. Overall, this reading is not as strong as the novel itself, though the sheer power of the story may propel listeners along with Lina on her journey.&12; Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 8 Up&12; This novel is based on extensive research and inspired by the author's family background. Told by 15-year-old Lina, a Lithuanian teen with penetrating insight and vast artistic ability, it is a gruesome tale of the deportation of Lithuanians to Siberia starting in 1939. During her 12 years there, Lina, a strong, determined character, chronicles her experiences through writings and drawings. She willingly takes chances to communicate with her imprisoned father and to improve her family's existence in inhuman conditions. Desperation, fear, and the survival instinct motivate many of the characters to make difficult compromises. Andrius, who becomes Lina's love interest, watches as his mother prostitutes herself with the officers in order to gain food for her son and others. To ward off starvation, many sign untrue confessions of guilt as traitors, thereby accepting 25-year sentences. Those who refuse, like Lina, her younger brother, and their mother, live on meager bread rations given only for the physical work they are able to perform. This is a grim tale of suffering and death, but one that needs telling. Mention is made of some Lithuanians' collaboration with the Nazis, but for the most part the deportees were simply caught in a political web. Unrelenting sadness permeates this novel, but there are uplifting moments when the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity for compassion take over. This is a gripping story that gives young people a window into a shameful, but likely unfamiliar history.&12; Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
Through the pained yet resilient narration of 15-year-old Lina, a gifted artist, this taut first novel tells the story of Lithuanians deported and sent to Siberian work camps by Stalin during WWII. From the start, Sepetys makes extensive use of foreshadowing to foster a palpable sense of danger, as soldiers wrench Lina's family from their home. The narrative skillfully conveys the deprivation and brutality of conditions, especially the cramped train ride, unrelenting hunger, fears about family members' safety, impossible choices, punishing weather, and constant threats facing Lina, her mother, and her younger brother. Flashbacks, triggered like blasts of memory by words and events, reveal Lina's life before and lay groundwork for the coming removal. Lina's romance with fellow captive Andrius builds slowly and believably, balancing some of the horror. A harrowing page-turner, made all the more so for its basis in historical fact, the novel illuminates the persecution suffered by Stalin's victims (20 million were killed), while presenting memorable characters who retain their will to survive even after more than a decade in exile. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Mar.)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Sepetys' first novel offers a harrowing and horrifying account of the forcible relocation of countless Lithuanians in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country in 1939. In the case of 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her younger brother, this means deportation to a forced-labor camp in Siberia, where conditions are all too painfully similar to those of Nazi concentration camps. Lina's great hope is that somehow her father, who has already been arrested by the Soviet secret police, might find and rescue them. A gifted artist, she begins secretly creating pictures that can e hopes surreptitiously sent to him in his own prison camp. Whether or not this will be possible, it is her art that will be her salvation, helping her to retain her identity, her dignity, and her increasingly tenuous hold on hope for the future. Many others are not so fortunate. Sepetys, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, estimates that the Baltic States lost more than one-third of their populations during the Russian genocide. Though many continue to deny this happened, Sepetys' beautifully written and deeply felt novel proves the reality is otherwise. Hers is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership.
Word Count: 64,750
Reading Level: 3.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.6 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 142569 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.6 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q52906
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z
Chapter 1:

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.
June 14, 1941. I had changed into my nightgown and settled in at my desk to write my cousin Joana a letter. I opened a new ivory writing tablet and a case of pens and pencils, a gift from my aunt for my fifteenth birthday.
The evening breeze floated through the open window over my desk, waltzing the curtain from side to side. I could smell the lily of the valley that Mother and I had planted two years ago. Dear Joana.
It wasn’t a knocking. It was an urgent booming that made me jump in my chair. Fists pounded on our front door. No one stirred inside the house. I left my desk and peered out into the hallway. My mother stood flat against the wall facing our framed map of Lithuania, her eyes closed and her face pulled with an anxiety I had never seen. She was praying.
“Mother,” said Jonas, only one of his eyes visible through the crack in his door, “are you going to open it? It sounds as if they might break it down.”
Mother’s head turned to see both Jonas and me peering out of our rooms. She attempted a forced smile. “Yes, darling. I will open the door. I won’t let anyone break down our door.”
The heels of her shoes echoed down the wooden floor of the hallway and her long, thin skirt swayed about her ankles. Mother was elegant and beautiful, stunning in fact, with an unusually wide smile that lit up everything around her. I was fortunate to have Mother’s honey-colored hair and her bright blue eyes. Jonas had her smile.
Loud voices thundered from the foyer.
“NKVD!” whispered Jonas, growing pale. “Tadas said they took his neighbors away in a truck. They’re arresting people.”
“No. Not here,” I replied. The Soviet secret police had no business at our house. I walked down the hallway to listen and peeked around the corner. Jonas was right. Three NKVD officers had Mother encircled. They wore blue hats with a red border and a gold star above the brim. A tall officer had our passports in his hand.
“We need more time. We’ll be ready in the morning,” Mother said.
“Twenty minutes—or you won’t live to see morning,” said the officer.
“Please, lower your voice. I have children,” whispered Mother.
“Twenty minutes,” the officer barked. He threw his burning cigarette onto our clean living room floor and ground it into the wood with his boot.
We were about to become cigarettes.

Excerpted from Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

An international bestseller, a #1 New York Times bestseller, and now a major motion picture! Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray is now the film Ashes in the Snow!

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


From New York Times and international bestseller and Carnegie Medal winner Ruta Sepetys, author of Salt to the Sea, comes a story of loss and of fear -- and ultimately, of survival.

A New York Times notable book
An international bestseller
A Carnegie Medal nominee
A William C. Morris Award finalist
A Golden Kite Award winner

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 perfect for readers of The Book Thief.

Praise for Between Shades of Gray:

"Superlative. A hefty emotional punch." --The New York Times Book Review

"Heart-wrenching . . . an eye-opening reimagination of a very real tragedy written with grace and heart." --The Los Angeles Times

"At once a suspenseful, drama-packed survival story, a romance, and an intricately researched work of historial fiction." --The Wall Street Journal

* "Beautifully written and deeply felt . . . An important book that deserves the widest possible readership." --Booklist, starred review


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