Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.
So, today, I have something I'm very excited to share with you all! Between Shades of Gray is a book I loved, and I was offered the chance to interview the editor of this book. I'm very honored to introduce Tamra Tuller!
1) Why were you initially interested in Between ?
Between Shades of Gray was originally acquired for Philomel by my boss, Michael Green, who is the president and publisher. He immediately felt the power of the story. From page one, it is utterly gripping. It’s also a beautiful story with underlying messages of hope and strength. It’s the kind of book you don’t want to put down. And on top of being an incredibly compelling story, it is also an incredibly important one that is seldom told.
2) Did you previously know about the Soviet Union? I've heard a lot of people say that this book had introduced them to the topic.
No, I didn’t know anything about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries. I was shocked when I read the manuscript and immediately thought that I must be incredibly ignorant. So I started asking people. And it turned out that I was not alone. Not a single person I spoke to knew this had ever happened. And I found that to be so sad, and I realized even more than ever this was a story that must be told.
3) Who is your favorite character in the novel? Care to explain?
Hmmm. I love them all! All of them. From the grumpy bald man who seems so thoughtless but turns out to be kind, to little Jonas, so sweet and innocent, to of course, Lina, our heroine. But I have to say my favorite is Andrius. He’s so strong and so brave. And I’m a sucker for a little romance, especially under those horrific conditions.
4) If you were to recommend this book to someone, what would you say?
Honestly, I would say everything I said in my answer to your first question. All the reasons we fell in love with this book are the reasons anyone should read it: the power, the beauty, the importance, the characters, and the compelling story.
5) What is, in your opinion, the best thing about this book?
There are so many things to choose from, but I think one of the things the book made me think about is strength. I was reading this wondering how anybody could endure such horrors, and it made me question my own strength. What would I do under these circumstances? I just don’t know. Every day so many of us let the most minor things beat us down and discourage us. I think we have a lot to learn from these characters and how they supported each other and built each other up to become collectively stronger.
Another thing I love about this book is how it shows the complexity of human beings. We’re not all good or all bad. It’s important to remember that everybody has a story, and sometimes people do terrible things under very difficult circumstances for their own reasons, which quite often are not out of malice, but out of self-preservation. A character like Kretzsky is the perfect example of this. We feel throughout so much of the book that he is just pure evil, but then we learn he’s had to suffer his own atrocities, and he is probably making the only decisions he can under unthinkable conditions. There’s just no black or white where people are concerned. Hence the title, Between Shades of Gray.
So, if you've stuck around for the end of this post, I've got a little surprise for you. Those of you who want one will have the chance to win a soundtrack card. One winner will receive a signed one and one will receive an unsigned one.
To enter, leave a comment on this post, with your email. If you've read BSoG, tell me what you thought was the best part about it. And if you haven't, tell me about the best part of a book you've recently read.
Please remember to read to giveaway policy if you are unsure of the rules.13 years or older, and if you're under 18, please have parent's permission to enter. US only.
Ruta's websites are:
Also, the Official Fanpage for Ruta is going up April 3rd! Check it out here.
The full schedule for the tour is below, links are found at Hannah's blog, which is here.
March 29: Hannah- Intro
March 30: Jamie/The Hot Author Report
March 31: Mundie Moms
April 1: Brielle/Awesome Bookworm
April 2: Sara/Through the Looking Glass and Back Again
April 3: Marla/Starting the Next Chapter
April 4: Hannah/The Book Vortex