Tuesday, January 04, 2011


BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel 2011)(ages 12+). In spring of 1941, fifteen year-old Lina Vilkas is preparing for art school and the rest of her life. But in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, no one is safe, especially not the family of a university professor. One fateful night, the NKVD -- Stalin's secret police -- come for Lina, her mother, her eleven year-old brother, and thousands of other "unreliables."

Taken from their homes, they are loaded into cattle cars and hauled off to work camp in Siberia. There, they suffer malnutrition and starvation; exposure to the elements; and psychological and physical abuse from their guards. With only each other and only the barest smidgen of hope, can they and their fellow prisoners survive the brutality of the gulag?

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY is a profoundly moving story of the resilience of the human spirit. Sepetys, herself the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, is unsparing in her portrayal of one girl's struggle for self and dignity in the face of the most horrifying treatment, and demonstrates the worth of even small acts of kindness in the face of evil.

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