Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 06 May 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Death & Dying, Family, Friendship, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Place(s) Traveled To: Elizabeth, Missouri // Prairie Valley, Missouri // Caster City, Missouri // Waverly, Missouri
First Line(s): Marin wanted to teach me the East Coast Swing.
Torn Away by Jennifer Brown is the story of a tragedy. Its the story of Jersey who lives with her mom, stepdad and half sister Marin. Life isn’t perfect for Jersey but its comfortable and she’s reasonably happy. That is until the day that her town is devastated by a massive tornado that levels most of it. Having only lived through one tornado, and a small one at that seeing as how I am not in the midwest, I really have no idea what Jersey’s experience was like. But you don’t need to have experienced a tornado fully as Brown does an amazing job in bringing the experience to life.
For me, that scene and the ones immediately following were the best in the book. They were filled with such emotion and feeling that it was impossible not to get swept up and taken away by it all. However, after that the book started to fall apart for me. I liked Jersey, most of the time, but the secondary characters were all horrible people that they really took me out of the story. Her stepdad abandons Jersey just when she needs him the most and her real dad is not much better. His family branch delights in torturing Jersey and it often made me uncomfortable to read. Maybe that was the point but it didn’t make me like Jersey or the story any more I just wanted it over.
I also found it odd that Jersey would call her half siblings step-siblings as if there was no blood or relation between them. With her dad’s other family I could understand as they were strangers but with Marin? It just added distance into a story that should have been bursting with emotions. And then of course there was the BFF that wasn’t which is so typical these days in books that I shouldn’t be surprised by the cold and unfeeling things that they do.
Torn Away isn’t a bad book but it doesn’t have the same magic to it that some of Jennifer Brown’s other books did. It was a quick and short story and beautifully written but it suffered from likable characters.