Between Shades Of Gray Review: Contemplative, Full Of Research & A Must Read

Was it harder to die or harder to be the one to who survived?

When I came across this book for the first time, I thought it’d be just another romantic novels with the protagonist being seperated by her father, literally trafficked into slavery. What I thought would be a silly romance, with a kid immersed in her drawings, turned out to be exactly opposite.

So this is what really happens in the book. At the initial stage of WWII, the Soviet Union invades various Baltic states of  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In 1941, Lina, along with her mother and little brother, are captured and bu train cars taken to various places. Held as prisoners for 25 years and treated as filthy pigs, thousands of people work very hard in excruciating circumstances to get a one time ration, which doesn’t even fill their bellies. The struggle, the behaviour and the injustice pointed towards these people has been documented in this novel.


Between Shades Of Gray isn’t a total work of fiction. A similar, rather worse or even intense and turbulent times were seen by the civilians. Ruta Sepetys interviewed them and collected a lot of information in Lithuania. Her epilogue and acknowledgement speaks for itself. What is very intriguing is, the whole coverage of the story happens through the eyes of Lina, the 15 year old girl. The story is very sad, set in harsh times, but very beautiful at the same time.

I was particularly amused by the part where Andrius scribbles a few sentences on the pages of the copy of Dombey and Son. Another notable conversation of Lina was, when her father explains that, as the kite goes higher and higher in the sky so do the people when they die. Their spirit soars up in the blue sky and that they are always watching. And then Lina’s brother says, “Maybe Grandma found the kite.”

The Final Word:

Ruta Sepetys tells the tale of an entourage going through innumerable perils and how they strive to survive at every edge, maintaining unity at all times. Though it’s an inviting story to read, it is written in a manner which fails to hit the nerves most of the times. It comes of as a very light material describing much patrifying and difficult moments.

Another deficiency I felt in Between Shades Of Gray was that, it was a petty book. A lot more should have been covered. Watching the world through the eyes of a little girl somewhat makes the intensity of the book. Having said that, I think this is a work to be read by every reader.

My Rating: 4/5


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