Author Spotlight: Ruta Sepetys

Published Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Ruta Sepetys is a renowned historical fiction author for both adults and teenagers. Born in the US to a Lithuanian refugee, she first gained inspiration to write historical fiction from her father's own experiences in refugee camps. Sepetys focuses on stories that are voices for people that were ignored throughout modern history.

While her characters are fictional, Sepetys interviews real people that experienced the events she writes about, as well as doing additional research, making her stories more in-depth and enthralling. She has won a Carnegie Medal and was bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania.

Book summaries are provided by the publisher.

Between Shades of Gray

1941 – Fifteen-year-old Lina Vilkas is arrested by the Soviet secret police and deported to Siberia with her mother and younger brother. Lina fights for her life, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by burying her complete story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Lina’s writings and drawings chronicle her fight for survival, her difficulty accepting help from a Soviet guard she’s supposed to hate, and her struggle to retain faith in mankind amidst the terror.

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The Fountains of Silence

Madrid, 1957. Under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is living in silence. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into the country under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

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I Must Betray You

Romania, 1989.
Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force. Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

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Out of the Easy

It’s 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her conscience, her loyalties, and her darkest fears. Caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld, Josie must choose—between who she is now and who she longs to become, between when to hold on and how to let go.
With characters and atmosphere reminiscent of the great Southern novels, Ruta Sepetys creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that our decisions shape our destiny.

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Salt to the Sea

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

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About the Author

Rachel is the Youth Services Assistant. She loves to read science fiction and romance novels. She also loves to watch terrible B-movies that no one likes.