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Why YA? Victoria Scott invites you to dive into YA with Between Shades of Gray

Some of the greatest war stories have been told from the point of view of teens.  Anne Frank was a teenager when she hid her diary.  Devon recalls his teenage years when he returns to the place that haunts him in A Separate Peace by John Knowles.  And just this past week Stephanie and I rejoiced in the splendor that is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  Today, debut author Victoria Scott invites you to dive into the pages of Between Shades of Gray with her as part of our ongoing Why YA? series.

I think the most accepted idea about the YA genre is that it’s meant for teens alone.

I beg to differ.

Most books that end up in the teen section are categorized there for one reason: the main character is a teen. When I explain this to non-readers, or casual readers, the response is always the same, “That makes sense.” And while it does make sense, I’m not sure everyone actually knows this. Many of my non-writing friends believe books are read by some great Lord of the Tomes. Naturally, said lord sits down each morning with a cup of Jasmine tea and the newest soon-to-be-released book, and gives it a read. After doing so, Lord of the Tomes stands, fills his broad chests, and exclaims something along the lines of “I hereby announce this book to be teen in nature. Shelve it as so. I have spoken.”

Because so many people believe YA books are meant only for teens, they miss out on spectacular stories. Stories everyone should read. Stories like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys. Here’s the description I pulled from Amazon for this brilliant book:

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.

At the heart of this book, Author Sepetys is telling about imprisonment, about the human condition…about the will to survive. And I believe the reason she chose to tell the story from a teen’s point of view is the same reason many YA authors do: because teen emotions are beautiful and virginal and raw.

Sometimes, YA books are written for teens. To the point where adults may have trouble enjoying them the way a teen might. But other times, in cases like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, books are written using a teen lead because it makes sense for the story. This is why readers should never shy away from YA. Because there are stories on those shelves you can’t find anywhere else. Because the characters experience life in fresh, exhilarating ways.

And because YA is where it’s at, baby.

Victoria Scott has a deep-rooted obsession for all things creepy. Her favorite place to brainstorm story ideas is inside a grandiose graveyard founded in the 1800s. Victoria’s passion for books is inexhaustible, and she dreams of owning a colossal library complete with spiral staircase. When not writing, Victoria can be found snapping pics of gnarled trees, scouting cotton candy, and snuggling obese cats. Victoria has a master’s degree in marketing, and lives in Dallas with her husband in an appropriately-creepy house. THE COLLECTOR: A DANTE WALKER NOVEL (Entangled Teen, 2013) will be Victoria’s first novel. Visit her online haunt at www.VictoriaScottYA.com, or learn more about THE COLLECTOR at http://www.victoriascottya.com/work/thecollector