Between Shades of Gray by Rupta Sepetys This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

In the story, “Between Shades of Gray”, we discover an almost hidden historical movement that happened in the 1940’s during World War II. Many of us are very familiar with what Hitler did with the Jews and the concentration camps. But, what we don’t learn in school is the genocide of the Baltic countries: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
This fictional story is strongly based on what happened to the families suffering during that time. Ruta Sepetys takes a hidden event and makes it very realistic. By reading this book, I was able to greatly understand the distress and misery the families were put through as they themselves were taken out of their own homes and moved all throughout the country to different types of concentration camps, those separate from the Jews.
In the story, Sepetys makes the main character, Lina, very relatable to the teenage audience; she’s a fifteen year old girl who is very opinionated. She realizes that after her father disappears and she and the rest of her family are taken, that it’s up to her to keep them alive. Throughout the whole book you see her growing more and more mature, and trying to provide more for her family.
For example, when her younger brother Jonas gets sick with Scurvy, Lina stays and cares for him during the next few days; even it means she could lose her life for not showing up to the station she is assigned at the camp. And when their mother is dying, Lina becomes her caretaker. Suddenly, the roles are reversed and it’s up to Lina to provide and care for her mother. Sadly, her mother doesn’t make it, and Lina is determined even more to make it out of the camp alive alongside her brother.
Sepetys writes an incredible and powerful book that left me excited to turn to the next page. I was so impressed with her word choice and fluency; the way she wrote was just so intriguing from one page to the next. She kept the story very suspenseful the whole time, and had many parts where she would totally twist things around.
One thing that I disliked about the book would be the ending. It never says that Lina and Jonas escape, but it’s just there to kind of assume. There is an epilogue, but it has to do with modern times, and doesn’t explain how Lina was rescued. If I were to rewrite the ending, I would make a big deal of her escaping the camp and finding her way home, and marrying her sweetheart, Andrius. Overall, the book was amazing, and it really opened my eyes to a new event in history that I had no clue about. The author does a great job of describing such an historical event through a teenagers eyes, that I felt at times I was the one in the story.





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