Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy Books and into the Ruta Sepetys Books

Meet Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys is a New York Times bestselling author. She has written three books, Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea. Sepetys’s first book was written with personal knowledge. She is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. This obviously impacted Ruta Sepetys very much because two of her books are based off of refugees. Sepetys realized that not much people have heard about the terrible and horrifying past that has faced Lithuanian refugees. She first learned this when she went to visit her family and asked to see pictures of her grandparents and father. The family looked at her in a sad way telling her that they had to burn all the pictures so the Soviets didn’t know that they were in relation. This made Sepetys realize that her story had to be told. Sepetys told the story through her book, Between Shades of Gray. After writing that book, she wrote Out of the Easy, which was quite different than Between Shades of Gray. But then, Sepetys wrote her third and newest book called Salt to the Sea. This book is also about refugees but from four different teenagers in four different perspectives in four different places.

In the books that Ruta Sepetys has written, it seems that she has focused on writing about sadness in a character's life. In all of her books, Sepetys causes the main characters to have a life that they want out of or want to get back to their old life. This causes the books to have a long journey of whether or not the life of the main character will get better.

Link to Books

Read about each book.

Ruta Sepetys Writing Techniques

Simple Sentence Starters

In her work, Sepetys mostly uses a simple sentences in the first sentence of her chapters. I call this technique, simple sentence starters. This technique is used to show the main aspect of the certain chapter without exposing any big surprises in a very simple way.

  • In Salt to the Sea: “ Guilt is a hunter,” (1).

  • In Out of the Easy: “ My mother’s a prostitute,” (1).

  • In Between Shades of Gray: “ They took me in my nightgown,” (3).


In her books, Sepetys often uses participle closers in her works. I call this technique, particlosers. This technique is when the author has a sentence with a participle after a comma. This technique is used to show a sentence but then add more action into it by using a comma and and a participle. This shows the reader the big idea of the sentence while allowing the reader to see a more interactive and intimate piece of the sentence.

  • In Out of the Easy: “ I slept alone in the lobby that night, dreaming of my new doll,” (1).

  • In Salt to the Sea: “ My conscience mocked me, picking fights like a petulant child,” (1).

  • In Between Shades of Gray: “ Jonas stuck his hand out of the opening in the board, trying to wave,” (60).


In her writing, Ruta Sepetys uses rhetorical questions quite often in her books. I believe she uses these because when an author is addressing the question towards what you feel is you, which makes the book interactive.

  • In Between Shades of Gray: “ Was she born in Siberia?” (118).

  • In Salt to the Sea: “ Which family did the estate belong to?” (91)

  • In Out of the Easy: “ Where was I going?” (131).


In her books, Sepetys uses interrupters often. I believe that she uses them to add more detail to the sentence in the middle to cause more attention towards the detail.

  • In Out of the Easy: “ But he had cash, lots of it, and all of a sudden he’s dead?” (40).

  • In Salt to the Sea: “ It is up to people like me-- documentarians of the military-- to report them,” (122).

  • In Between Shades of Gray: “ We scurried around, like a hens in a yard , craning our necks for anything that touched the ground,” (220).

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Common Themes in Sepetys's Books

Ruta Sepetys’s books often have a common theme of a strong main character with a change in lifestyle that they desperately want back. This theme is important in Sepetys’s books because each book is different but has a good theme going through them. Between Shades of Gray is about a girl and her family taken to camps by the Soviet Union. Out of the Easy is about a girl who's mother becomes a prostitute after moving to New Orleans and the girl wants to get out of what her life has become. Salt to the Sea is about four teenagers that are refugees trying to flee their country. All of these have many grammar techniques and other things in common but what they all have in common is a theme. This theme is how each character's life is perfect until something happens where they have to go to huge lengths to protect themselves and their personalities. Even though Out of the Easy seems like not such a hard life like the others, it can be told by the reader that the main character's life is a very hard one and that she is desperate to have a better life than she has now and definitely a better life than her mother. For all the books, I believe that Sepetys tries to show that life is not all happiness or sadness that turns into happiness but happiness that turns into sadness and may never get better.

Between Shades of Gray

Author Ruta Sepetys talks about the true history behind Between Shades of Gray

Out of the Easy

Author Ruta Sepetys talks about her new book Out of the Easy

Salt to the Sea

Ruta Sepetys discusses her new novel, SALT TO THE SEA


Sepetys , Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. New York: Speak, 2011.

Sepetys , Ruta. Out of the Easy. New York: Speak, 2013.

Sepetys , Ruta. Salt to the Sea. New York: Philomel, 2016.

Sepetys, Ruta, narr. Author Ruta Sepetys Talks about Her New Book Out of the Easy. Prod. Penguin Teen. Penguin Teen, 2012. Film.

- - -, narr. Author Ruta Sepetys Talks about the True History behind Between Shades of Gray. Prod. Penguin Teen. Penguin Teen, 2010. Film.

- - -, narr. Ruta Sepetys Discusses Her New Novel, SALT TO THE SEA. Prod. Penguin Teen. Penguin Teen, 2016. Film.