Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

Written by Ruta Sepetys

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Shortlisted for the 2012 Carnegie Medal.

The Judges said: A compelling, page-turning story about a hidden period of history, told with real emotional depth. Flashbacks are employed to great effect, and the excellent characterisation means that you both believe and care about what happens to everyone in it. A book which makes the reader a survivor too: you read it, and have to move on with life, as they do.

A Lovereading4Kids 'Debut of the Year 2011'.

14 +. Unforgettable and eye opening, this is a compelling and deeply moving story of one family’s survival against unimaginable odds. Taken from their home with only twenty minutes to pack, Lina along with her mother and younger brother gather together everything they think is important. Herded into a train in Lithuania, they begin a seemingly endless journey of unimaginable deprivation and horror which takes them to Siberia. Lina tells the family story describing the emotional turmoil especially about the whereabouts of their father as well as capturing the fleeting moments of hope and even the feelings of falling in love which make survival possible. ~ Julia Eccleshare

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Press play below to see the fascinating and moving video trailer for this book:

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose ...Will hope keep Lina alive? Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.


"This superlative first novel by Ruta Sepetys demonstrates the strength of its unembellished language. A hefty emotional punch." - The New York Times

"Sepetys' flowing prose gently carries readers through the crushing tragedy of this tale that needs telling." Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"A brilliant story of love and survival." - Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Wintergirls

About the Author

Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys is the author of acclaimed YA novel, Between Shades of Grey. Born and raised in Michigan in a family of Lithuanian descent, Ruta now lives with her husband in Tennessee. Ruta was a highly successful promoter of classical music concerts, booking and touring with orchestras worldwide, before turning to writing full-time. In 2015, Ruta was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation's prestigious Bellagio Center writing residency, where she interacted with other leading international artists, writers and thinkers.

Ruta discovered the story on which Salt to the Sea is based originally through a family connection and discovered that a cousin of her father’s should have been on board but a fortunate accident near the port meant he missed boarding, saving his life. The book has recently been picked up for development by Universal Pictures.

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Book Info


352 pages
Interest Age: From 12 to 16 years


Ruta Sepetys
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Puffin Books an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd

Publication date

7th April 2011




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