Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

History, Lost and Found

Ruta Sepetys recounts the improbable discovery of her Lithuanian family’s “hidden history” in Siberia

November 27, 2012 In a blog post for The Huffington Post’s books section, Nashville YA novelist Ruta Sepetys describes the winding, unlikely path her family’s hidden stories took to reach her.

Here’s the short version: years ago, while visiting family in Lithuania, Sepetys learned that some of her grandfather’s relatives had been deported to Siberia following World War II. This knowledge inspired her to write Between Shades of Gray, her debut novel. The book brought attention to the Soviet oppression of Lithuanians and earned Sepetys an invitation to attend an exhibit called “Letters from Siberia” at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago. “The exhibit was emotional, passionate, and gave attendees a rare glimpse into this little known piece of history,” Sepetys writes. “But walking through the aisles I felt the aching reminder that one story was still missing—my own family’s story.”

Remarkably, only two months later, the curator of the exhibit uncovered some letters and photographs of Sepetys’s deported relatives, including a letter written by her grandfather.

To read the rest of the story, click here. To read more of Chapter 16’s coverage of Between Shades of Gray, click here.