Title: Torn Away
Author: Jennifer Brown
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads: Born and raised in the Midwest, Jersey Cameron knows all about tornadoes. Or so she thinks. When her town is devastated by a twister, Jersey survives — but loses her mother, her young sister, and her home. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with her only surviving relatives: first her biological father, then her estranged grandparents.
In an unfamiliar place, Jersey faces a reality she’s never considered before — one in which her mother wasn’t perfect, and neither were her grandparents, but they all loved her just the same. Together, they create a new definition of family. And that’s something no tornado can touch.
When I got the email from NetGalley for a “read now” for this book (at work, might I add – oops!), I immediately jumped at the chance! I’ve never read anything by Brown before, but I had heard so much about her that I wasn’t going to skip an opportunity like this. So, phone under my desk, with shifty eyes and a slightly guilty weight in my chest, I logged on as soon as I could and snatched up my copy of the galley. But then, it was on my Kindle, and nothing else mattered! And let me tell you – my covert affairs were well worth it! I was a bit skeptical because of the hype monster, but Torn Away is definitely a book I would read again.
The number one thing I really want to highlight here is Brown’s style in writing this book. I felt so much for Jersey: every emotion was so easy to connect to, and she was a very real character to me. At first, I was angry because I didn’t know what was going on, or if Jersey’s friends had lived, or what really was going on in the aftermath of the tornado. But then I realized that this was a positive: it was exactly what Jersey would be experiencing! So kudos to Brown for making it so easy to empathize with Jersey.
In all, actually, my favorite part of Torn Away was probably the characters. They were so well developed, both horrible and amazing. The “evil” characters were so easy to bristle at – I was ready to start yelling at my phone (which wouldn’t have gone over well in public). And Kolby, one of the major secondary characters, needed more page time for sure. He was the “love interest”, but not really. Because this isn’t a love story. In fact, romance only plays about a 1% part in this book! But he was an amazing, strong friend for Jersey, and he’s one of those people I would love to meet in person.
Overall, this was an emotional, gripping, can’t-put-it-down story. The only negative I can really complain about is the somewhat abrupt ending – I would have loved to see more of an epilogue of sorts, maybe to find out where the characters were a year or two after the tornado? Either way, I’m definitely planning on reading some more of Brown’s books (maybe Thousand Words?), and highly recommend Torn Away!
My Final Rating: