November 21, 2017

Gordon Hayward Injured -

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mrs. Tribuzi, Dance Teacher Extraordinaire -

Monday, October 30, 2017

theSkimm: The Millennial Generation of News -

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cross Country Runs into the 2017 Season -

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Should You Attend the Women’s Marches? -

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bearcats Blown Away by Chalk Fest -

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The New Tardy Policy Pilot Is Over -

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SMHS Chalk Fest is an Instant Successes -

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chalk Fest is Shaping Up Well This Year -

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Boys Volleyball Season Comes to a Close -

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bearcat Chefs Compete in Nacho Contest -

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bearcat Invitational Track Meet a Huge Success -

Monday, May 8, 2017

Concert Band Prepares for Spring Concert -

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Students: “Beware the Banality of a Busy Life” -

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Roger Federer Proves he is the GOAT -

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Coach John Tells Us About Boys Tennis -

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Olaiha Fonua and His Friend Perform at Green Week -

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Eureka, We Built It! -

Thursday, April 20, 2017

International Week Celebrates Diversity -

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

International Week Shines -

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

“Between the Shades of Gray” is an Inspiring Novel


“Between the Shades of Gray” is a moving novel written by Ruta Sepetys. The novel depicts the horrific scenes of the regime in the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin.  

The story begins with Lina Vilkas, a fifteen-year-old budding artist, living in 1941 Lithuania.  As she is beginning to write a letter for her cousin Joanna, who recently moved to Germany, the Soviet Secret Police storm into her house and order her, as well as her brother and mother, to pack their bags. Lina later finds out that her dad was arrested separately for conspiring against the Soviets, and is sentenced to death in a prison camp. On her journey to the labor camps in Siberia, Lina faces many struggles of survival and sees the deaths of many women and children. Although she continues to struggle for survival, she keeps faith by passing secret messages through her art in hopes that it will reach her father and let him know that his family is still alive. Along the way, she also meets Andrius Arvydas, who she begins to have romantic feelings with, and Nikolai Kretzsky, a guard who seems to want an escape from his life.  

One of the most famous quotes from the novel is also written on the back cover: “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.” The novel constantly makes you think, “What would I do if I were in Lina’s position?” After reading “Between the Shades of Gray,” I can’t even imagine how I would have survived if I were living in that time and under Lina’s circumstances.  Lina’s bravery is so inspiring.  She could have given up in the very beginning and not have had to suffer so much. However, her promise throughout the novel is to survive the journey and leave a legacy behind for her family, so that people in the future will understand the struggles they went through and prevent the horrors she experienced from ever happening again.  

The author, Ruta Sepetys, is a Lithuanian-American who still has relatives and friends in Lithuania. While writing “Between the Shades of Gray” she went back to Lithuania twice and interviewed survivors of the genocides of the Baltic people. Although she wanted the novel to be nonfiction and solely based on the interviews she received, she later decided to write a historical-fiction novel to protect the identities of the survivors. Like Lina, many of the survivors that she interviewed had family members that passed away from the famine and war during World War II.  Another reason Sepetys had for writing “Between the Shades of Gray” was that she wanted to reveal a hidden piece of history.  Most don’t know much about the treatment of the Baltic people in the Soviet Union during World War II, and Sepetys wanted to open readers’ eyes about the horrors that had occurred in a way that was relatable, such as writing from the perspective of a teenager.   

The novel was originally released in March 22, 2011, but by 2012, “Between the Shades of Gray” had won several awards for being such an inspiring and awing novel.  In 2012, the book won the Golden Kite Award for fictional novels, and was a finalist for the 2012 Carnegie Medal.  Common Sense Media rates this novel five stars for quality, and says that “the horrors Sepetys describes are staggering, but it’s an effective and sensitive way to bring history to life.”  Publisher’s Weekly says that “the novel illuminates the persecution suffered by Stalin’s victims (20 million were killed), while presenting memorable characters who retain their will to survive even after more than a decade in exile” as well as calling it a “harrowing page-turner.” Goodreads even rates “Between the Shades of Gray” a 4.4 out of five stars.

Scheduled to release in 2017, Marius A. Markevicius will be directing a movie based on the novel. The movie will be a World War II drama renamed “Ashes in the Snow.” Bel Powley from the CBBC television series “M.I. High” is cast as Lina Vilkas and Jonah Hauer-King as Andrius Arvydas.  Swedish actor Martin Wallström, who debuted in 2015 as Tyrell Wellick in “Mr. Robot,” will be acting in the role of Nikolai Kretzsky.  

Although “Between the Shades of Gray” is the debut novel of Ruta Sepetys, she has also written two other best-selling novels. “Salt to the Sea” was just released early last year in February. The novel shows four different stories in the winter of 1945 during World War II, and how the characters are all struggling for freedom and a new life.  The stories connect when they all try to meet at a ship called “Wilhelm Gustloff,” in an attempt to escape from their past lives.  Another novel that Ruta Sepetys has written was released in 2013, called “Out of the Easy.” The plot of the novel is about a girl named Josie, who grows up as the daughter of a prostitute in New Orleans of 1950.  

I most definitely recommend “Between the Shades of Gray” for anyone, even if they have no interest in historical fiction. The plot has a little of everything for everyone; romance, adventure, tragedy and you learn a bit more about the world. Since the story was told from the perspective of a teenager, not all the facts were included; the subtlety in the writing made me want to learn more about the topic. Overall, the “Between the Shades of Gray” is absolutely inspiring and opened my eyes to the world outside

.Betwen the Shades of Gray

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