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Sunday, May 13, 2012

History is Alive for Teens

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
First, do not confuse this book with the new overly publicized erotic book Fifty Shades of Grey.  I put a photo of the hardcover and paperback covers to help you identify Between Shades of Gray.

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Grey is about a teen girl, Lina, and her family, citizens of Lithuania during the rule of Stalin.  Stalin and his regime killed millions of people among other atrocities.  As part of seizing the Baltics, Stalin had many of Lithuania's (and other countries') military officers and intellectuals and their families killed or deported to labor camps in Siberia.  This heart wrenching tale is based on true events and first-hand accounts, some from the authors relations.  The book is beautifully written.  I think it is a must-read for teens and adults, too.  As a science and math fanatic, I missed out and tuned out of a lot of history lessons.  I was ignorant of this chapter of history.  I'm glad I'm not anymore, and others shouldn't be ignorant either.

I knew this book would have sad moments at the least, and I was determined to keep a hard heart throughout the book and read it objectively without succumbing to emotion.  Impossible.  The characters and environment are so well-developed, the book is so well written, you can't help but become engrossed in Lina's story.  You are transported right along side of Lina.

This is a living history book that can get teens who are reluctant to study history motivated.  I was inspired to read Between Shades of Gray from a co-workers recommendation and because of the experience I had reading The Book Thief.  Lots of people at work were telling me I had to read The Book Thief over and over, so I finally did.  I didn't really want to because, as I said earlier, I wasn't interested in history.  I knew the gist of WWII and that was enough for me.  But after I read The Book Thief, I wanted to know more.  I wasn't content with the little knowledge I had.  It opened up the world of history and historical fiction for me!  Between Shades of Gray can do that just as well!  You HAVE to read Between Shades of Gray.


  1. I have it on my shelf! Plan on reading it before the end of May. So many good books to read!

  2. I balked when I first read the title of this post. I would have figured it out, but I'm glad you clarified at the beginning which book you were reviewing! WWII fascinates me. The more I learn, the more I am amazed at the unique ways it impacted so many countries. This looks like a great book.