Book Review

Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

Book Review spoiler free

18th October to 22nd October ~ Physical Copy ~ Link to Goodreads



It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

Pre-Read Thoughts:

I read Salt to the Sea at the beginning of the year and loved it. This book was released before Salt to the Sea and I have been meaning to pick it up for the longest time so I was over the moon when I unwrapped it for my October TBR

The Good:

Plot – WW2 fiction is a massive buzz word/phrase for me. Guaranteed if it’s set in that time period you will have my interest. This book starts pretty swiftly with very little/no back ground. However as you go along we as the reader are given little snippets of memories and this is a very clever way to incorporate it in my opinion. You don’t end up with all their information/background dumped in one go and it provides different sides and dimensions to Lina and her family as you go along. The plot was heartbreaking from fairly early on and by the end I felt completely destroyed. I was worried that because I loved Salt to the Sea so much I might’ve been a bit let down by this one but I really wasn’t it’s very much on par with Salt to the Sea.

Lina – I felt very connected to Lina. I would say me and her are quite different in a lot of ways so on reflection I’m quite surprised I felt so connected to her. She is very stubborn and in a lot of respects she’s quite naive. I don’t think she fully grasps just how serious the situation she was in. All her “flaws” made her that much more realistic though, it was like I was reading diary entries and not a novel. I like that the romance that develops is quite a slow burner and neither her or the love interest are ever described as wonderful/beautiful/more special than anyone else it was just something that blossomed between two “normal” people in tragic circumstances. I also liked how protective she was of her mother & brother and how she never gave up hope on her father finding her.

Reading Experience – this book really took a lot out of me emotionally but in all fairness that is what I look for in WW2 fiction. When I was reading I was pretty much death and blind to everything else around me. I felt like I was there standing side by side with Lina throughout the book and it has been so long since I’ve felt so immersed in a book. I adored Lina’s mum and how she stayed so strong through everything she is exactly the kind of mother I think everyone dreams of having.

The Bad:

I can’t fault anything in this novel at all it was beautifully written but if I had to be nit picky I would say that I found it lacked every so slightly in the middle and there was a point where I was wondering “is this all there is” but it quickly stirred to a build up. Also I really disliked “the bald man” but even though I disliked him I think he showed that not everyone was able to stay positive etc and made the setting that bit more realistic.


I think the research for this book must have taken her forever because it was so incredibly well executed! I adored my experience while reading this and it was one of those books that makes you remember why you love reading so much! A true gem!

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Link to my reading experience

Have you read Between Shades of Gray?

How do you think it compares to Salt to the Sea?

Did the book pull you in as much as it did me?


15 thoughts on “Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

  1. I haven’t read this one yet, but I have read Salt to the Sea and enjoyed it! A book with no flaws? Kinda hard to pass that up! Great review!


    1. I loved them both and it’s really really close between the two but if I had to pick I think that Salt to the Sea would have a slight edge but they are both well worth a read especially since I know you share my love for historical fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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