Book review // Between Shades of Gray

12:11 PM


Guess who FINALLY decided to crawl out from under my rock? ME. Hah. 

It's been what? 5,489 years? Mmm, too long my friend. So much has happened, so much has changed, so much to talk about. But before I start a storm of rambles and ship names, let me just jump into today's post, which is *squeals* a book review on.... "Between Shades of Gray" by Ruta Sepetys!


//introduction (basically me rambling to myself)

So, I'll admit. I am terrified to write this review. Do you ever get that feeling of inadequacy when you're writing a review? Right now I'm struggling with words to describe how I feel about this book. It was good. 

It was phenomenal.

But even as I type that... I feel like I'm leaving something out. As if I'm belittling the novel somehow. I guess there just aren't words to describe all books? Some are just left up to you to understand personally. Maybe that sounds cheesy. But you'd get my meaning if you've read the book.

//actual review ~ 5 STARS

Written with feeling, emotional ties, and unique insight, Between Shades of Gray is a book that not only shattered my mind and soul into a million pieces, but still tortures my heart when I think of it. I've fallen hopelessly in love with a book that has stabbed my heart multiple times. HELP ME. 
The plot follows a Lithuanian 15-year-old, Lina Vilkas, as she is ruthlessly thrown into the cruelty of World War 2. Although she has her mother and brother, her father is lost in the sea of men being taken to multiple concentration camps. In hopes and desperation of contacting him and reuniting their family somehow, Lina, a very gifted artist, draws portrayals and portraits of the things she sees, where they go, people they meet. Throughout the book, her notebook fills with these drawings, and she's just hoping and praying that no one, especially not the Soviets, will find them.

The character development was impeccable. Each one had their own story, their own strength, and their own way of coping. It was so cool to see that clear transformation of what war will do to people. It pains, breaks, but doesn't make things unfix-able. And Ruta Sepetys portrays that in such a beautiful crystal clear way.

Even if it was a historical fiction, and very very historically sound, it wasn't boring at all. All the mentions of the news during that time, what was going on politically, didn't drive me crazy like other books. It was all very interesting and kept me engrossed within its leafs. However, this book really focuses on the characters and their experience from their POV, not the war as a whole. Like, none of the characters know what's exactly happening in the war, and Ruta Sepetys doesn't just say what's going on. It is all written in a way so that you relate to the characters in a very intimate way; same mind, same fear, same everything. It's really very well written (I don't know how many times I'm going to write that haha).

Basically, it was excellent. Beyond excellent. It was breathtaking, heartbreaking, soul-wrenching, tear-jerking, ridiculously gushing with emotions and pain and IT IS ALL ACTUALLY BEAUTIFUL.

//characters ~ 5 STARS

Lina: Oh how my heart hurts for our dear protagonist. When I began the book, I imagined her as any other protagonist that would be thrown into her situation; she was scared, she asked questions, she cried. But by the middle, I really began to know her. She's not just scared. She's terrified. So much so, she forgets how to cope with little discomforts, how to communicate her fears, her worries. Every minute during her captivity, she experiences a fear that you and I cannot even try to connect with reality. Her heart, so sensitive, so innocent, was so roughly tossed about and beaten by the Soviets, that by the end it's completely covered with bloody wounds, white scars, and blue bruises. But through it all, all the heartbreak, all the tears, all the anger... hope lingers. Even if it seemed like just a faded line in the horizon, barely even noticeable, in her heart she never let it go. There is strength in brokenness. And we see her grow in that strength, even if she is covered in scars, she's not weak. 
(Song: Clouds by Before You Exit)

Jonas: My precious little Jonas... where to begin with this guy? Seeing him grow up (emotionally and mentally-- dude smoked at 9) was hard. It hurt. But it was realistic. In the beginning, he was a sunshine-y 9-year-old, optimistic like his mommy, always trying to bring the light into his sister's eyes. And then you slowly just see him become a man. His words are harder, not innocent childish worlds. His actions are all about taking care of his mom and sister, protecting them. It's adorable and bitter-sweet in a 10-year-old. You want to bundle him up in a snuggie and just protect him and guard him from the ugliness of the world. In conclusion, Jonas was definitely one of the strongest characters in the book. Yes, he did have his share of pain and worries, but he put them aside to care for his family. My little man.  

Andrius: oH My HeAD. This guy. This guy. This guy. I can fangirl about him all day. He's so strong, so passionate, so discerning... I just love him so much. From the beginning, he displayed a heart that had been hurt, but was still functioning for others. He had this amazing inner strength that served as a rock for both Lina and Jonas. OH. And his brotherly relationship with Jonas? That was the most precious thing ever! And then on a heartbreaking note... we get to see his brokenness on a whole new level in the middle of the book. Even if he's all confident on the outside, he's just as scared and angry and broken as Lina, Jonas and the rest of the refugees. He'd just learned to conceal (*sings* don't feel) his pain and deal with life. I LOVED he and Lina's relationship so much, it's hard to type this out because I'm wanting to just let all my fangirl sap to pour all over the keys. But I won't do that. Because I love y'all. But let's be serious, hahah. Their relationship is literally the sweetest, sweetest cinnamon roll evers. Literally. You'll have to read the book, because I don't want to spoil anything.. okay, I'll say this: Andrius is every girl bookworm's dream guy. But that's it.



Now, this is a war book, and although it's not too graphic, it does speak of war related things (i.e. dead bodies, and the like). There was a couple uses of the D word, but it wasn't used any more than that. In one part the refugees have to bathe in the showers and they are ordered to undress in front of the Soviet soldiers, which was disturbing, but again this was a realistic war book based on what really happened. So this can be forgiven. There is also a little romance between two of the characters and they do kiss twice, but it's short and sweet. And if you don't want to have your heart broken a million times, you probably shouldn't read this. Because it will do exactly that. 

In conclusion to my review on Between Shades of Gray, I will say it again: This book can't be described by words. YOU MUST READ IT YOURSELF, SIR.

So there's my review! I know this was kind of slightly scattered... bless you if you read through it all xD Here's a playlist I put together while reading the book. Now, whenever I hear any of these songs, my heart hurts and I have to stop and sigh of sorrow. Once you read this book, you won't be able to live it down, I promise you!

//the tunes



//let's talk bruh.

Have you read this book? (if so, let's scream like idiots in the comments together, kindred spirit!
Have you heard of it? 
Are you going to read it(if not, we need to have a talk...)?

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19 comments

  1. Wow! Girl, I just discovered your blog though the comment you left on mine and OMHEART. Dude, I did a review on this book a while ago, but yours is the best one ever! AND YESSSS ANDRIUS WAS DA BEST> OMW He is truly every book worms dream guy, like you said. This book was amazing and so is this review! Have you read Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys? That one is also another one of my favorites! Following your blog, dear and looking forward to more posts!
    -Clara

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    1. OMGUAC, hey! Hahaha aww thanks:) I'll have to check yours out then! I KNOOOOW, I need Andrius in my life like... yesterdy lol. That book has literally ruined my entire life, it's SO GOOD. AND YES OH MY HEAD YES. I actually read Salt to the Sea first, in January I think. I have yet to write a review on that, but let's just say it'll be pretty similar to this one, hahA! Ruta Sepetys is like the most amazing author ever xD

      Thanks so much for stopping by! God bless,
      Jazzy

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  2. I've just stumbled upon your blog and I was so glad when I saw this post! Between Shades of Gray is my favourite book ever and I did a review of it on my blog too! I was so happy reading your review because I could literally feel your excitement (and crushed emotions) through what you've said! I agree that Jonas' character development was amazing and Lina and Andrius' relationship is so sweet but I like that it's not too forced.

    Followed your blog :) I'm excited for future posts!

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    1. Aww thanks so much! I KNOOOOW. Like, you can't read this and NOT add it to your favorites. It just doesn't work that way, ANDRIUS WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS TREATMENT YOU OAK TREE. And YEs, I love of their relationship just kinda makes its way smoothly into romance, without it being like frozen-butter-BAH. But Jonas, my boy, my sunshine, I love him so much haha.

      Thanks SOSOSO much!!! Bless!

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  3. OOOOHH this sounds like a really amazing book!! I'll definitely have to get my older sister to check it out for me-- She's great that way. ;)
    I had to laugh giddily (though my throat closed up a bit because I know exactly how bad it hurts) at how you tried to describe it-- "It was breathtaking, heartbreaking, soul-wrenching, tear-jerking, ridiculously gushing with emotions and pain and IT IS ALL ACTUALLY BEAUTIFUL." I have exactly the same inexpressible feelings about another super deliciously thick WW2 book!!!
    You have got to have read The Book Thief by Markus Zoozak???!!! My mom took a bottle of white-out to its pages for Kate (cuz it needs a bit of editing for language, one totally un-needed scene, and a concentration camp scene) and we gobbled up the words together so fast!!! Soon after, poor Mommy did the same thing to two more copies-- one for me and one I gifted to Maggie! lol I think she actually enjoyed the book, and it is so crazy fun to swap quotes and fangirling with your MOM!! She is such an amazing angel!! <3

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    1. IT IS YOU MUST READ IT NOW! And that's wonderful... I have nobody to screen the books I read, so I'm left horribly disappointed if something bad is in it because NOBODY TOLD ME THIS WAS GONNA BE HERE gAH. That's kinda why I love following certain book bloggers that I trust will tell me all the details about the book. :))

      HAhahA! I know, its' the only way to describe certain feelings: LIKE, WORDS. But then it just sounds all blubbery and yea. And people just look at you like, go get therapy and then we'll talk. And I'm just here like: I'M NOT CRAZY YOU HUMAN I'M IN LOVE WITH A WW2 BOOK YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.

      OMGUAC I JUST ordered that from Amazon!!! I've been eyeing it for a while, but I haven't gotten around to actually picking up my own copy *squeals* I'm SO EXCITED AHHH. I've heard so much about it and it's awesomeness and I'm just waiting waiting waiting for it to come in the mail! :)) EEEEEP.

      AGAIN, That's awesome! Your mom has a lot of patience haha! Ain't nobody doing that for me :'( I just have to skim occasionally. It's so terrible, like why include those kind of things?!?! It's not cool and it doesn't make the story any better. I will never understand why people feel like they need to include those kind of things in amazing books. Just totally unnecessary. Grrrrrr.

      ANYWAYS thanks for commenting! <3

      Jazzy

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  4. I LOVE RUTA SEPETYS AND I LOVE THIS BOOK (and I love andrius) (I probably love him the most). I can't wait to listen to your playlist! Yay!

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

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    1. THERE YOU GO WE'RE KINDRED SPIRITS. AHahaha but serious, I feels. Andrius is *squeals like a fangirling pig* Thanks for reading!

      Jazzy

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  5. Like you, I always find it difficult to write a review of a book that I absolutely loved - and this sounds like a book I really must read. Last year I read and loved Salt to the Sea which I adored, so I really want to check out more of Ruta's books. Thanks for sharing - lovely review!

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    1. It really is! And YES you must must must. Everyone must. It's amazing *cries* OMGUAC Salt to the Sea is so boss. I read that one first last year, and basically spent the next three weeks moping around the house wondering why why why and what I should do with my life now that I had nothing to live for. Ugh. Ruta Sepetys is ruining my life completely lol. :))

      Thanks for commenting!

      Jazzy

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  6. I've heard of this book, and thought that the plot summary sounds interesting. But now I REALLY want to read it because you shared about your emotional connections with it. I LOVE books like that!

    By the way, thanks for adding me on Goodreads. I like finding people with similar interests in books!

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    1. Oh good, you must must musttt read it!! I know, so far Ruta Sepetys has written some of the strongest books i know *cries*

      and welks, it was my pleasure :))

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  7. Wow, this book looks amazing! I'll have to check it out. Great review, and the picture is gorgeous by the way :)
    -Vivian

    P.S. thanks for the follow on Bloglovin'! <3 <3

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    1. I KNOW MAN. YOU DO. Like, YESTERDAY. xD Thank you so much, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! <3

      Jazzy

      P.S. Welks!! Totally :))

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  8. P.P.S. anddd I realized just now I already thanked you for the follow-- ah well double thanks for you haha <3 I really do appreciate it :)

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    1. P.P.S LOLLLL! xD OH WELL. Didn't hurt anything ;)

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  9. Awwww this book has been on my TBR list for an embarrassingly long time and every time I read an awesome review like this I want to drop everything else and just read it. Sounds so good! :)

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    1. Ah Kasey, you MUST read it! If you've read Salt to the Sea, you have to have to have to read Between Shades of Gray! :)) It'll change your life... for the better haha!

      thanks for stopping by! I heart your blog so much <3

      Jazzy

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  10. OMG I loved this book too! I thought it was so powerful. I didn't love the writing style in the beginning but it improved so much and the story was incredible. Lovely review!

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hai there, fran. be awesome. be nice. eat oreos.

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