Audiobook, Historical Fiction

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys ★★★★★

I don’t know what I was expecting when I decided to read this story since I relied on friends’ recommendations. I knew it was about Stalin’s deportation of Lithuanians in 1939, which in itself was an aspect of world history I hadn’t known. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of that action, told using fictional characters (with one exception) but recited based on factual recollections.

I implore you to read this book as there was a concerted governmental effort to bury what happened to the Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians for decades. It is an important story because it needs to be known and what happened should never be repeated. The author asks that we share it and I’m certainly taking on that challenge.

I listened to the story and, aside from the transitions between the past and present not being clear, it was narrated beautifully in the voice of 15-year old Lina. A big bonus was the voice of the author at the end, providing more context and her purpose for writing the story. It is emotional and brought me to tears.

It’s not an easy read; I just don’t know where people get the ability to lose their humanity in the ways portrayed here. But, the resilience of the Lithuanians in this story to survive is extraordinary and that in itself was inspiring. To choose to survive when death clearly is easier is remarkable. I’m glad my friends recommended this book because I’ll never forget this part of our history.

Book Info

  • Release Date: March 22, 2011
  • Narrator: Emily Klein
  • Audio Length: 7 hours, 47 minutes


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13 thoughts on “Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys ★★★★★”

  1. I had my eyes on this book for quite a while now.
    About 10 years ago i worked with a woman who was around 35 that time and was from Latvia, but she was russian. She told me some of the historical stuff this book is about. Never heard of what happened there before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t agree more with your comments in your review Jonetta. When I read this book, I had not heard about the plight of the Eastern Europeans shared in this book. It was a difficult book to read, but one that needs to be read. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was thinking about historical fiction today with your post about genres you don’t read. I don’t often read historical fiction. I do sometimes enjoy a book but the fallout is the problem. Because I know it is fiction and then I am bugged by what is the truth? What actually happened? So sometimes I have to go read a bunch of non-fiction to figure out what I can about the truth. And that sometimes can be depressing. But I do read to expand my mind and thoughts and perspectives so sometimes it works for me. Anne – Books of My Heart

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of the authors of the historical fiction I read include notes at the end to clarify the non fiction and fiction elements. I’ve never been left confused. The really good writers feel that’s important. I’m leading a group read of an historical fiction series and with each discussion, I include a section on the historical fact elements of the story. It’s been fascinating.

      This is fast becoming one of my most favorite genres. Thanks for weighing in, Anne!


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