Between Shades of Grey

Ruta Sepetys


Lina and her family lead on a comfortable, and very happy life. Lina was an average fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She drew, painted and crushed on boys. All this was put to a stop when Soviet officers barged into her home, taking away from her everything she held close, including her father. Lina, her mother, and younger brother were only given a few minutes to pack their most precious belongings before being forced into a dirty old cattle car stuffed with many people. Some faces were acquaintances to Lina and some were close friends. After what would feel like months, they would make their way up north, crossing the arctic circle. They were forced to work and live there under the harshest conditions. Through love, perseverance, and survival, Lina was able to log all her experiences thought her journey, bringing forth the novel "Between Shades of Grey."


Survival is on one of the themes in the book "Between Shades of Grey." The will to survive is in all the characters even if they still expected to die. In the first couple chapters of the book, Lina meets a bald man in the cattle cart. He is badly wounded and has no family. Although he constantly said that he would rather die than stay alive, he continues to fight to stay alive. Another example of this can be seen later in the book when Jonas, Lina's brother, finds an old barrel and finds use for it as a stove. Lina also finds a dead owl outside and realizes it could be eaten. These are a few of the many ways the theme of survival can be seen in this book.

Important Quote

Lina, the main protagonist in the book Between Shades of Grey and her family are faced with many tough challenges thought the novel. After being barked with orders by the soviet officers, her family was forced to pack suitcases immediately, and were put in a cattle cart. After many hours they finally arrived at a train station. The station was swarming with confused faces and angry officers. They understood that they were separating families into groups; men, women, children, sick, old, etc. Lina's mother could not have this. When one of the officers ordered her brother to stand in a different line, mother came up to him and told him something in pure Russian. Lina then saw her secretly hand him her grandfather's soft gold pocket watch. He shook his head and told them where to go. The author wrote, “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.” (Sepetys 34). This quote is very significant to the book because it shows how peoples' lives could be bribed for, as Lina's brother was for a pocket watch. It also helps paint a picture of how inhumane this whole situation was.
Author Ruta Sepetys talks about the true history behind Between Shades of Gray

Some more information about the author and the book.

Between Shades of Gray Book Trailer

Book Trailer