Between Shades of Gray

By: Ruta Sepetys


Between Shades of Gray talks about a 15 year old girl from Lithuania. She and her family were taken away at nighttime; When she was still in her nightgown. The girl, named Lina; her younger, brother Jonas; and her mom were separated from their dad. The family planned to escape but they were too late; And yet they were more prepared then most people. Lina's mom, Mrs. Vilkas, sewed little, but expensive, things into her coat. Little did they know that a pocket watch was traded for Jonas; So if you've ever wondered how much a life is worth,Lina's brother's life was worth a pocket watch. Mrs. Vilkas may have saved Jonas' life but will that be enough to keep them all alive?


I think the theme is follow your dreams no matter what. I think that because Lina was determined she would stay alive. She made drawings (since she wanted to be an artist) and drew to hopefully someday still follow her dreams.

Historical Event

I read an article by a girl that was departed when she was 14 and had to go to the Arctic. This girl had to survive the polar winter (when the sun doesn't come out for months). It talks about what the winter was like, and how "People started to freeze to death, die of starvation, scurvy and other diseases"; It also says that a teacher died in the blizzard just trying to get to were she worked in the Arctic. She said during blizzards you couldn't even see a step in front of you, just ONE step in front of you. We think our winters in Iowa are cold, but imagine being in the Arctic, without seeing the sun for months. In the end she survived by escaping in a plane during February. I wonder if she would still be alive today if she didn't escape…

How the historical event relates to the book

How much it relates to the book is pretty amazing. The arctic part is close to the end but it talks a good amount about it. It says in the arctic that people died in huts. They would have to lay there next to the living until the blizzard was over. It also mentions cattle cars and that was in the beginning of the book to. One major thing that I say in the article is that the person escaped. In the book no one did.

Information From Ruta's Website

Ruta said, "I wrote the book but really history wrote this story". The book was based on stories told by survivors and their families. All of the characters in this story are fictional but one. The character that is real was a doctor. He really helped save save some lives. Ruta is actually Lituanian, and Lina was a Lithuanian in my book. It was when Ruta was visiting with her cousins and she asked, "Do you have any pictures of grandpa?" They went silent. They said, "Ruta we had to burn all of them". Her grandparents left before they were caught. They could've been killed. Then that was when she knew going to write a story.

Click here to go to Ruta Sepetys website

Click here to go to the website to read about the arctic story


"ABOUT." The official website of author Ruta E Sepetys. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2014. <>.

"BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY." The official website of author Ruta E Sepetys. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2014. <>.

"Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea: Siberian Memoirs of Dalia Grinkeviciute." Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea: Siberian Memoirs of Dalia Grinkeviciute. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. <>.