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Ruta SepetysRuta Sepetys, who now lives in Nashville, is a former music industry executive and world traveler who has been knighted by the President of Lithuania. She’s also a best-selling author.

Sepetys will be at UT on Tuesday, October 8, to talk about her two best-selling books for young adults. The event, at 7:00 p.m. in the Lindsay Young Auditorium in Hodges Library, is sponsored by UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and the Knox County Public Library. It is free and open to the public.

Sepetys’s first published novel, Between Shades of Gray was inspired by her father, who escaped Lithuania when he was a young boy. The novel—in which fictional characters are involved in actual events—depicts what happened when the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1941.

“There are millions of people whose lives were taken or affected during the Soviet occupation. Yet very few people know the story,” Sepetys said. “I wanted to write a novel to honor the people of the Baltics and also to illustrate the power of love and patriotism.”

In June 2013, Sepetys was awarded Lithuania’s Cross of the Knight of the Order. The honor of “knight” was bestowed by the president of Lithuania in a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. This was in honor of her contributions to education and culture with her global efforts to share the history of totalitarianism in the Baltics.

Between Shades of Gray, a New York Times best-seller, was winner of the Golden Kite Award for Fiction and was named a Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of 2011 and an Amazon Top Ten Teen Book of 2011.

Also a New York Times best-seller, her second novel is Out of the Easy. The book is set in New Orleans in the 1950s. Its characters are fictional but inspired by actual people. The story involves a seventeen-year old girl, the daughter of a brothel prostitute, who gets entangled in a mysterious death and ensuing investigation.

Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan and graduated with a degree in international finance from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. She worked in the music industry in Los Angeles for nearly fifteen years. She later moved to Nashville to continue her career in the music industry but found that the relaxed lifestyle and scenery caused her to slow down and just read. Her adventures to more than forty-two countries on six continents left her with many stories, so she wrote a novel.

The Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature is part of UT’s School of Information Sciences. It promotes literature as essential to the literacy, learning, social, emotional, and aesthetic development of young people.

For more information about the CCYAL, please visit their website.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,