Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys

January 24th, 2019 Kimberly Review 44 Comments

24th Jan
Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys
Ashes in the Snow
by Ruta Sepetys
Length: 7 hours and 46 minutes
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Goodreads
Narration: 4.5 cups
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

historical TEARJERKER Truffles well written

Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys takes us on one family’s perilous journey as she shares stories of human endurance and the horrors they faced. Poignant and inspiring this story will stay forever in your memory.

1941, 15-year-old Lina Vilkas’ father never arrived home and now someone is banging at their door.  Lina, her 10-year-old brother Jonas and their mother Elena are ordered to pack only necessities from their home in Lithuania by Soviet officers and charged as criminals.

The Soviets packed them into cargo trains with other families. Here is where our journey with the Vilkas’ and other Lithuanians really begins. They didn’t know it but they were headed to work camps in Siberia.

I love historical fiction especially when it is steeped in history and recounts actual events. Sepetys did extensive research, and it shows in this well-written, poignant tale. At the end we learn she interviewed survivors. One survivor related much of what happened to Lina. While I am always shocked at the cruelty and horrors of this time period, I am often left in awe at not only the strength of those who faced these inhuman conditions but at the compassion they show. More than once their story moved me to tears as I listened. We also bore witness to humanities selfish side when its survival is on the line. It will give the reader pause and demand reflection as we ponder how we would react.

Sepetys didn’t shy away from the horrific events that occurred nor did she share events just to shock. Her characters were wonderfully flawed, and she showed both their strength and weaknesses. Even the enemy had shades of gray from some who helped to others who seemed to enjoy their cruelty.

Emily Klien narrated and did a wonderful job. She added another layer of depth and emotion to the tale. From her accents to tone she brought Lena’s courage and her mother’s strength to life. I felt she did the dialect justice and each key character had their own distinct voice. I will seek more audios narrated by her.

While this story only focuses on the Vilkas’ time in imprisoned and those with them on their journey, Sepetys offers an informative epilogue and a letter regarding the story. She shares what moved her to write this story, and the research that went into Ashes in the Snow, originally entitled, Between Shades of Gray.

Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys takes us on one family's perilous journey A #mustlisten poignant and inspiring #iloveaudiobooks Click To Tweet

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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44 Responses to “Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Sepetys”

  1. Wendy @ Falconer's Library

    At first I got all excited and thought somehow I’d missed a new book by her! But I completely understand why a title change happened. I still love Salt to the Sea best of her work, but that might be partly because having spent several years in the Baltics, this story was not the revelation for me it was for some, whereas I’d never heard of the historical backdrop to STTS.

    Lovely review as well. You really get at the heart of the matter, and now I’m considering listening to the audio book!

    Wendy @ Falconer's Library recently posted: Sunday Post #27
  2. Carla

    I read this one when it was originally published and titled Between Shades of Gray. I thought it was amazing. I am glad it was made into a movie which I hope to see. Great review Kimberly.

  3. Lorna

    I’m glad you cleared the name thing up. I was so confused after reading the last sentence of the blurb. I’m glad you really liked this one. I am afraid I would be upset throughout.

  4. Annie

    I can see giving a book a new cover, but even changing the title? That’s mean! I thought this was a new book by RS, not one of her very first!

  5. Sophia Rose

    Ruta’s books all sound fabulous and I even own one, but I hold off because of the emotional punch they pack for everyone who reads them. 🙂

    • Kimberly

      It is heartbreaking and shocking but it is also inspiring. The stories of unselfish deeds, the fight for survival and love ….

  6. Stefanie

    This period in time I never heard about before. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I really liked how you expressed your thoughts in the fourth paragraph.

    Stefanie recently posted: Paper 11 Play
  7. Tonyalee

    I read this a while ago when it was BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY and it’s one of my favorite books to date. Her writing is amazing. I recommend Salt to the Sea too, if you haven’t read that one yet,.

  8. Heidi

    I read two of this author’s books and she does a great job. They are tough to read sometimes as she covers some harsh stuff. I have this on my list, just need to be brave enough to listen to it.

  9. ShootingStarsMag

    Has the title officially changed, or is that just the movie version of the book? At any rate, I STILL need to read this and I’m glad to hear you liked it. I do love books set in this time period.

    -Lauren