book review | between shades of gray

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!

// 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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