August 30, 2012

Latest Read: Torn

Here are the basics ...
Book: Torn
Author: Stephanie Guerra
Site: http://www.stephanieguerra.com/
Category: Young Adult

Summary: Stella Chavez is your classic good girl.  You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more. New girl Ruby Caroline seems like her polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels. But with Ruby, Stella gets a taste of another world and it’s not long before Stella finds herself torn: between the best friend she’s ever had and the friends she’s known forever, between her family and her own independence, between who she was and who she wants to be. But Ruby has a darker side she doesn’t show anyone. As Stella watches her friend slowly unravel, she will have to search deep inside herself for the strength to be a true friend, even if it means committing the ultimate betrayal. (Adapted from goodreads.com

[Note: ARC c/o BEA! Book already available.]

My thoughts…
The good:  I was surprised by how real and complex the characters were.  At first glance, it seemed like the book would be about a stereotypical "good girl" befriending the "bad girl" and the expected downward spiral.  But it was so much more than that.  Sure, Stella is a good girl.  She's not super popular but she's nice and gets along with everyone.  She's smart and dedicated to her family.  Then Ruby comes into her life like a tornado with her wild nature, dating older men and drugs/alcohol.  But she's not what she seems either.  She's not what everyone assumes she is and she's not afraid to be honest.  She's also fiercely loyal and for all her craziness, it's clear how much she values having Stella in her life.  I actually really enjoyed their friendship. Ruby never forced or peer pressured Stella into doing anything but she didn't hide who she was either.  I thought the book in general explored friendships in a very interesting and realistic way.  Because there does come a point when you become distant with childhood friends and things change (in my experience).   Sometimes someone new does come along and gets you in a way that childhood friends don't.  And sometimes you realize the same can be said for those childhood friends.  That there's a history which you can't erase or forget. I really felt for Stella as she struggled with this and wanting to explore life beyond her town.

Plot-wise, so many themes were explored. Family, growing up, self-esteem, romantic relationships, drug/alcohol abuse, bullying.  Most of which felt very real.

The bad:  There's this one incident in the book (towards the end) which felt a little far-fetched.  But I think I get why it was thrown in there.

Do I recommend?:  I do.  It definitely shows more of the ugly/not-so-pleasant parts of high school but like I already said, it's the realistic-ness of the characters and those situations which made it a good read.

Happy reading!

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