Throwback Thursday:Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetsy

No, we’re not talking about Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s a different post, for a different time. Today, we’re diving into a beautifully written Historical Fiction novel that tells the story of a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl sent to a Siberian work camp during World War 2.

Foremost, if you’re a fan of The Book Thief, then you’ll love Between Shades of Gray. While the writing styles in both books differ, one cannot deny the almost intimate quality of storytelling experienced throughout the novel. The readers can easily develop a connection with Lina as she’s forced from her home, and separated from her father, left with her mother and younger brother to survive in the harsh conditions they’re forced into.

“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

Sepetsy is a talented writer, taking the true story behind Irena Spakauskiene and bringing it to life through Lina. In the first chapter alone (you can find an excerpt here) we get this immediate sense of foreboding, because we know what’s will happen, and we know how the soldiers will, most likely, treat Lina and her family. This use of dramatic irony by the author is well put, because, despite our knowledge of events, we’re still drawn in. We have this sympathy for Lina and her family, and we want to continue on to make sure she’s okay, and to see these events from her eyes. This is one of the best things about any Historical Fiction novel. While the characters may be imaginary, or in this case a representation of someone real, the events are true and wholly unique to that character. While we may know what happens, we cannot know the views of a single person who experienced it until we’ve read it from them.

Between Shades of Gray has an adaption that came out in 2018 called Ashes in the Snow. While I haven’t watched the film, I’m excited at the prospect the trailer allows. I am upset that they changed the title of the film, but I can understand their reasoning because of the widely known film and book series, Fifty Shades of Grey. The difference in plot between both works is vast, though it could have been a good selling point. Imagine buying a ticket to the movie only to discover that you’re watching a fifteen-year-old girl fighting for her life in a work camp during World War 2; not exactly the red room you were expecting, right? Right.

If you’re interested in checking out the novel, you can find it on Amazon. If you’re interested in learning more about the Ruta Sepetys, check out her author page! That about wraps things up for this Throwback Thursday. Until next time.

All the best.


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