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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

How long can twenty-four hours be? In that time, you can wake up, go to school, come home, go to sleep, and wake up again. You can visit a friend’s house and end up staying the night. Or, in Lina’s case, you and your family can be uprooted from your home, separated, and thrown into a train car stuffed with strangers speeding into the unknown.

Between Shades of Gray, an amazing historical fiction novel by Ruta Sepetys, followed fifteen-year-old Lina as she, her mother, and brother were forced out of 1940s Lithuania during World War II. The novel focused on the fact that, throughout all of their horrific and life-changing endeavors, they found the hope and will to survive in small ways.

In this book, each of the characters was extremely well developed. In the beginning of the story, Sepetys made it very clear who each character was and why they behaved and did things that they did. I was immediately able to distinguish the differences between the characters. I could see Lina as an artistic, intelligent girl full of ideas, her brother Jonah as a sweet, loving young boy, and their mother as a bright, strong woman. Throughout the story, there were many flashbacks to Lina’s life before she and her family were ordered out of Lithuania. From these stories, I gained a deeper knowledge of the characters’ thoughts and true emotions, some that they were not allowed to voice. The flashbacks answered any questions about the people in the story that may have occurred while reading the book.

Between Shades of Gray was inspired by and based on true events. Ruta Sepetys traveled to Lithuania twice throughout her writing process. During these trips, she talked to many survivors and family members of people who went through similar, if not identical, experiences to Lina and her family. The people she talked to retold stories that inspired many of the events in the book. By doing this, Sepetys was able to give a stunning portrayal of history throughout her writing.

I think that the reality and authenticity of the plot was an amazing feature that really helped capture the emotions that occurred over the course of the story. The entire time that I was reading the book, I felt as if I was right there with Lina. Although everything that the characters’ experiences in the book were nothing like my own, I could relate to the characters’ feelings as if they were my own.

Not only is this book one of the best reads on my bookshelf, but has also been recognized by over twenty-five different companies and has won several awards. Between Shades of Gray was listed as a New York Times bestseller, an International Bestseller, a National Blue Ribbon Selection by Book of the Month Club, and an iTunes Best Teen Novel of 2011. Make sure that reading this book is at the top of your to do list because, well, a lot can happen in twenty-four hours.



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Giselle G. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 20, 2012 at 9:59 am
This really made me want to read it! You must have an awesome school too ;)
 
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