Win Between Shades of Gray and other prizes! Details at the end of this post.

They took me in my nightgown.

Thinking back, the signs were there—family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.

We were taken.

June 14, 1941. I had changed into my nightgown and settled in at my desk to write my cousin Joana a letter. I opened a new ivory writing tablet and a case of pens and pencils, a gift from my aunt for my fifteenth birthday.

The evening breeze floated through the open window over my desk, waltzing the curtain from side to side. I could smell the lily of the valley that Mother and I had planted two years ago. Dear Joana.

It wasn’t a knocking. It was an urgent booming that made me jump in my chair. Fists pounded on our front door. No one stirred inside the house. I left my desk and peered out into the hallway. My mother stood flat against the wall facing our framed map of Lithuania, her eyes closed and her face pulled with an anxiety I had never seen. She was praying.

“Mother,” said Jonas, only one of his eyes visible through the crack in his door, “are you going to open it? It sounds as if they might break it down.”

Excerpt© 2011 Ruta Sepetys


About the book:

Fifteen-year old Lina Vilkas fights for her life amidst Stalin’s terror during WWII.

What people are saying:

“A harrowing page-turner.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“An important book that deserves the widest possible readership.”—Booklist, starred review

“Sepetys’ flowing prose gently carries readers through the crushing tragedy of this tale that needs telling.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A gripping story that gives young people a window into a shameful, but likely unfamiliar history.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“A brilliant story of love and survival.”—Laurie Halse Anderson, bestselling author of Speak and Wintergirls

“A document long overdue.”—Richard Peck, Newbery Award-winning author of A Year Down Yonder

“Beautiful and unforgettable.”—Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor winning author of Hitler Youth

Released: March 22, 2011

About the author:

Ruta Sepetys was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. She enjoyed bleak stories as a child and told anyone who would listen that she was going to marry Roald Dahl. Her debut novel, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, which will be published by Philomel/Penguin in the US, has also sold in over twenty countries. In addition to music and writing, Ruta enjoys teaching at the university, collecting eccentric art, and traveling with her dreamy husband. Her adventures have inspired dozens of stories and since she has intimate knowledge of heartbreak and teen angst, she enjoys writing books for young adults. Ruta’s degrees have nothing to do with literature but do involve failed attempts at becoming an opera singer, an investment banker, and Roald Dahl’s wife. You can visit her at or learn more about her book at


Ruta has been kind enough to contribute a signed ARC of Between Shades of Gray, bookmarks, and a keychain for a giveaway!

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The contest is open in the US and Canada and ends on April 2nd at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!