Review: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Philomel Books (2011)

ISBN 9780399254123

This is a story of loss and hardship, survival and hope from a young Lithuanian girl’s perspective as she is torn from her home, along with her mother and young brother, while her father is taken away. Lina travels by train along with thousands of others, and is held in a Russian work camp in 1941. It is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. I enjoyed listening to her voice and I longed to see her beautiful drawings referred to throughout the story – they were the symbols of freedom and a future for her and many of the other characters. It would have been great to have some of the factual documentation and primary sources used by the author included.

Quantitative: Lexile Level 490 (High-Low); ATOS 3.5

Qualitative: Middle Grades (6-8). This story has high interest content at a low reading so it appeals to a wide range of readers in the middle grades. There are a few scenes with violence and threatening scenarios, but none of the content is beyond grade level.

Content Area: Social Science: History: Europe, WWII, Jewish Holocaust

Common Core Standards: RI.8.1-RI.8.4

Additional/Digital Content:

Author Discussion Guide:

Awards: Golden Kite Award for Fiction, Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2011), William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2012), ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012), Indies Choice Book Award for Young Adult (2012).

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