Ruta Sepetys

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Ruta Sepetys
Born Ruta Sepetys
November 19, 1967
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Notable works

Ruta Sepetys or Rūta Šepetys (born November 19, 1967) is a Lithuanian-American writer . Her debut novel, Between Shades of Gray, was a New York Times Bestseller. It chronicles Stalin's reign of terror in the Baltics and was inspired by her family history.[1]


Sepetys was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. She holds a B.S. in International Finance from Hillsdale College. While in school Sepetys also studied at the Centre d’études Européennes in Toulon, France and at the ICN in Nancy, France.[2]

Following graduation Sepetys moved to Los Angeles. In 1994 she launched Sepetys Entertainment Group, Inc., an entertainment management firm representing Grammy®-award winning guitarist Steve Vai, Orange County modern rock band Lit, and Emmy nominated film composer Niels Bye Nielsen. In 2002 Sepetys was featured in Rolling Stone magazine’s 'Women in Rock' special issue as a woman driven to make a difference. Sepetys is on the Board of Advisors for the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University and is also a director of the Make a Noise Foundation, a national non-profit that raises money for music education. Sepetys published her first novel in 2011 and currently resides in Nashville, TN.[3]

Between Shades of Gray[edit]

Her first novel, Between Shades of Gray, about the Genocide of Baltic people after the Soviet occupation in 1941, was critically acclaimed[4] and translated into over 22 different languages.[5][6] At Sepetys' request, musician Gavin Mikhail composed a piano soundtrack to accompany the book.[7]

The book is considered a roman à clef, with fictional characters wrapped around actual events and experiences. Ruta states that the novel represents the "extreme suffering and tremendous hope" displayed by the people of the Baltics.[8][8]

In March 2013, Ruta became the first American author of young adult literature to give a presentation at European Parliament. Her discussion with MEP’s in Brussels centered on the novel, the history of totalitarianism in the Baltics, and the importance of historical fiction.[9]

Sepetys is a writer of historical fiction. Although Between Shades of Gray was initially written for children and young adults, the book has been widely read by many and considered a book for all ages.[10]

Out of the Easy[edit]

A story of identity and family, Out of the Easy was born from Sepetys's interest in post-war America, feminism in historical context, and the idea that young people can be the authors of their own destiny.[11]

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny. It's 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, 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 allegiance to her mother and her conscience.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.[12]

Out of the Easy” is a New York Times bestseller and was chosen as an Editor’s Choice in the New York Times on February 15, 2013.[13]


The New York Times says the book is a "superlative first novel" for Ruta.[14] On April fifteenth, Between Shades of Gray appeared on The New York Times Editor's Choice.[15] The Los Angeles Times states how Ruta Sepetys recounts the events with horrifying and fascination clarity.[16] The Seattle Times calls the book "heartbreaking."[17]


Cross of the Knight[edit]

On June 6, 2013, Sepetys was awarded Lithuania's Cross of the Knight of the Order. The honor was bestowed by the President of Lithuania in a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. Sepetys was decorated for her contributions to education and culture in conjunction with her global efforts to share the history of totalitarianism in the Baltics.[18]

Between Shades of Gray[edit]

Honors in the US
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An International Bestseller
  • A Carnegie Medal Nominee
  • A William C. Morris Finalist
  • A New York Times Notable Book
  • A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book
  • Winner of The Golden Kite Award for Fiction
  • An ALA Notable Book
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2011
  • YALSA’s Top 10 Best Fiction For Young Adults
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of 2011
  • A Booklist Best Book of 2011
  • A Kirkus Best Book of 2011
  • iTunes Best Teen Novel of 2011
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Notable Books For a Global Society Award
  • An Indies Choice Book Awards Finalist
  • IRA Children's and Young Adult's Book Award
  • Winner of the Volunteer State Book Award
  • Amazon Top Ten Teen Books of 2011
  • A CYBILS Finalist for 2011
  • National Blue Ribbon Selection by Book of the Month Club
  • A St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Book of 2011
  • A Columbus Dispatch Best Book of 2011
  • Winner of the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant
  • Georgia Peach Honor Book (GA)
  • Balzekas Museum's 2013 Woman of the Year[19][20]
  • Finalist for the Carnegie Medal in the UK
  • Shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award in the UK
  • A Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Nominee in the UK
  • Amazon Top Ten Books of 2011 in the UK
  • Winner of the Flanders Young Adult Literature Jury Prize in Belgium
  • Winner of the Prix RTL Lire For Best Novel For Young People in France
  • Winner of the Prix Livrentête in France
  • Finalist for the Historia Prize in France
  • Winner of Le Prix des Incorruptibles in France
  • Winner of the Peter Pan Silver Star in Sweden
  • Winner of the Flanders Young Adult Literature Jury Prize in Belgium
  • Winner of the Prix Farniente in Belgium
  • Awarded Cross of the Knight of the Order in Lithuania
  • Winner of the National Patriot Award in Lithuania
  • Winner of the Global Lithuanian Leader Award in Lithuania
  • A Golden List Nominee in the Netherlands
  • A Magazyn Literacki KSIĄŻKI! Best Book in Poland
  • Winner of the Prix des Libraries du Québec in Canada
  • ‘Der Leserpreis’ Readers Choice Finalist in Germany
  • A ‘Best Breakthrough Author’ Nominee for the Penguin Teen Australia Awards
  • Finalist for the Sakura Medal in Japan
US state honors
  • Texas Lonestar Reading List Master List (TX)
  • TAYSHAS Reading List Master List (TX)
  • Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens Master List (D.C.)
  • Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Master List (MD)
  • Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Award Master List (PA)
  • The Flume: New Hampshire Readers’ Choice Award Master List (NH)
  • Iowa Association of School Librarians Award Master List (IA)
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List (KY)
  • Nevada Young Readers Award Master List (NV)
  • Rhode Island Teen Book Award Master List (RI)
  • Maud Hart Lovelace Award (MN)
  • Missouri Association of School Librarians Gateway Award Master List (MO)
  • South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Master List (SC)
  • Virginia Readers’ Choice Master List (VA)
  • Eliot Rosewater Rosie Award Master List (IN)
  • Nebraska Golden Sower Award (NE)
  • Volunteer State Book Award (TN)
  • Sequoyah Book Award (OK)
  • Young Hoosier Book Award (IN)
  • Georgia Peach Book Award (GA)
  • Colorado Blue Spruce Book Award Master List (CO)

Out of the Easy[edit]

Honors in the US
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Junior Library Guild Book Pick
  • A Carnegie Medal Nominee
  • A New York Times Editor's Choice Novel
  • YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction For Young Adults
  • Booklist Top Ten Fiction for Young Adults
  • A CCBC Choice Selection
  • A Bank Streets Best Children's Book of the Year Selection
  • A Cybils Award Finalist
  • Bookspan Book Club’s Top New Books of 2013
  • Indie Next List Top Ten Pick
  • YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
  • Barnes and Noble Best Teen Books of 2013
  • Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2013
  • Amazon Best Teen Books of 2013
  • Newsday's Top Ten Books of 2013
  • BookPage Best Young Adult Books of 2013
  • Los Angeles Public Library Best Teen Books of 2013
  • Goodreads Choice Best Teen Fiction of 2013
  • 2013 Nerdy Award Finalist
  • Amazon Spotlight Pick
International Honors
  • Book of the Year in Spain
  • Finalist for Waterstones Children's Book Prize in the UK
  • Finalist for the Prix Farniente in Belgium
State Reading Lists & Awards
  • Capitol Choices’ Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens List (DC)
  • Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award (TN)
  • Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award Master List (IN)
  • Texas TAYHAS State List (TX)
  • Nutmeg Book Award Nominee (CT)
  • Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Program Master List (PA)
  • Westchester Fiction Honorable Mention (CA)
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (IL)
  • Flume Award Nominee (NH)
  • South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee (SC)
  • Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (RI)



Radio essays


Media articles and essays



  1. ^ Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. 1st. New York, NY : Penguin Young Readers, 2011. 344. Print
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Alexandra Alter, "An Unlikely Story for Teens". The Wall Street Journal.
  4. ^ Park, Linda Sue (April 8, 2011). "A Teenager’s View of the Gulag". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "The official website of author Ruta E. Sepetys". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  6. ^ MacPherson, Karen (June 4, 2011). "'Between Shades of Gray' reveals horror and hope". Seattle Times Newspaper. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Gavin Mikhail Newsletter: April 13, 2011". Retrieved 2012-04-28. 
  8. ^ a b "Official Book Website for Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  9. ^ Brus, Mitja. "The week on the EP Library’s blog: Ruta Sepetys | European Parliamentary Research Service". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  10. ^ "Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - review | Children's books". London: 2011-05-04. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  11. ^ Sepetys, Ruta (2013-02-25). "Ruta Sepetys - Interview". BookPage. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  12. ^,,9780399256929,00.html
  13. ^ "Editors’ Choice". The New York Times. 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  14. ^ "Editors’ Choice". The New York Times. 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  15. ^ "Editors’ Choice". The New York Times. 2011-04-15. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  16. ^ Carpenter, Susan (1987-10-22). "'Between Shades of Gray' by Ruta Sepetys: Not Just For Kids - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  17. ^ Macpherson, Karen (2011-06-04). "Books | 'Between Shades of Gray' reveals horror and hope | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  18. ^ [2][dead link]
  19. ^ "Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture | Official Website". 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  20. ^ Kuprytė, Vida (December 10, 2013). "Rašytoja Rūta Šepetys - Balzeko muziejaus "Metų žmogus"". Draugas (in Lithuanian) (Chicago, IL: Lithuanian Catholic Press Society). p. 1,6. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Sepetys, Ruta. "In Wordless Imagery, An Immigrant's Timeless Tale". NPR. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  23. ^ Sepetys, Ruta. "Two Gray Titles, One Sexy Mix-Up". NPR. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Ruta Sepetys: My Family's Story". 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 

External links[edit]