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Sepetys, Ruta.


New York: Philomel Books, 2011.


ISBN 0399254129

      (3 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews

Booktalk #1

Was Hitler the only leader who gathered up people, took their possessions, and sent them off to hard labor camps? NO!  The leader of the Soviet Union, Stalin, had his secret police take entire families of the Baltic States. 

Between Shades of Gray takes the reader on a journey filled with agony, inhuman conditions, and unbelievable suffering.  Linaís Lithuanian family had their normal lives taken from them in 1941.  Through many years of starvation, and illness, Lina is determined to survive and somehow tell the world what was being done by Stalin.   Sadness is not all that Lina sees.  She finds that love and compassion are possible. 
(Booktalk by the Sequoya Youth Book Award committee, 2014)

Booktalk #2

They took me in my nightgown.

Thinking back, the signs were thereófamily photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brothes Jonas was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.

We were taken.

In June, 1941, fifteen year old Lina, her mother and younger brother Jonas, were arrested by the NKVD, in their home in Lithuania. During the same period of time that Hitler was gathering and killing the Jews in Europe, Stalinís secret police were arresting Eastern Europeans who opposed him, and sending them to work camps in Siberia.

Under the harshest of conditions north of the arctic circle, Lina, Jonas and their mother struggle to survive, and reunite with their father. 
(Booktalk by the Sequoya Youth Book Award committee, 2014)

Booktalk #3

If you love dystopias, this is a dystopia that really happened.  15-year-old Lina is an artist, looking forward to attending art school and starting to date, when her life abruptly changes into a nightmare that will last over a decade, and take her from a comfortable home in Lithuania to a work camp in frigid Siberia, above the Arctic Circle.  When the Soviet Union under Stalin took over Lithuania, they deported a huge portion of the population to work and prison camps throughout the Soviet Union, and many of them died on the way to the camps, including many on the train with Lina, or in the camps.  

The night the Soviet secret police came for Lina and her family, they were given 20 minutes to pack, and although Linaís mother kept telling Lina and her brother Jonas that they would be back home soon, that there was just a misunderstanding, they were separated from their father and loaded, Lina still in her nightgown, onto a train.  Linaís family are survivors, though, and together with friends they make along the way, including 17-year-old Andrius and his mother, they donít give in to the starvation, the frigid cold, the grueling labor they are forced to do, all the while Lina keeps drawing pictures of what is happening, to one day help her father to find them, and to show the world how they were treated.  (Book Talk Author: Julie Richards, Colorado Blue Spruce Award, 2015)

SUBJECTS:      Lithuania -- History -- Soviet occupation, 1940-1941 -- Fiction.
                        Labor camps -- Fiction.
                        Survival -- Fiction.
                        Siberia (Russia) -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.
                        Soviet Union -- History -- 1925-1953 -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.

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