Sunday, December 2, 2012


- Win a copy of MORRIS AND THE DISAPPEARING BAG (Ends 12/7)
- Win a copy of FISHTALE by Hans Bauer and Catherine Masciola (Ends 12/16)
- Win a $100 GIFT CARD in the Crossroads Saga Book Blast (Ends 12/6)

- Win a $100 GIFT CAR in the Poseidon and the Sea of Fury Book Blast (Ends 12/9)

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM), a weekly event hosted by author Shannon Messenger. For a list of other MMGM posts, click HERE.
Ruta Sepetys
Penguin Group
352 pp.
Ages 12 to 17 years

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life—until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives. Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing. Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp. But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

This powerful tale of heartbreak and hope is sure to haunt readers long after they finish the last page.


Wow. This is one of the best books I've read this year. Between Shades of Gray is the story of Lina Vilkas, a sixteen-year-old Lithuanian who was imprisoned in Siberian by the Soviets during World War II. While the characters in the book are fictional, the story is a compilation of true events revealed by actual survivors when the Baltic nations regained their independence after 50+ years of Soviet occupation.

The story is shocking and simple, and is one that needs to be told. We are very familiar with the horrors of the Nazi regime, but little has been said about Stalin's reign of terror that resulted in more than 20 million deaths. Between Shades of Gray is a story of hope, courage, tragedy, and survival. It was nominated for a Carnegie Medal and is a New York Times Bestseller.

I had the privilege of meeting the author a few months ago at a SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. In her keynote address, she shared her experiences in a East European Gulag while conducting research for this book. She traveled to Lithuania twice and interviewed many survivors. Her family roots are deeply embedded in this history, and her dedication to telling this story is inspiring.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Please read it. It deserves a permanent spot on all our bookshelves, right beside such important books as The Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.


Violence: Mild
Sex: None
Profanity: None



  1. I loved this book too, but I think it would be challenging for a middle grade reader.

  2. This sounds like a powerful read. Thanks for the review.

  3. I loved this book. When I finished I had to sit back and take a deep breath.