Latest Read: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Publication date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Summary: 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. (Adapted

The good
Torn Away is is emotionally-charged, raw novel that moved me completely and I’m sure will have the same effect on other readers. The story is straight-forward, although by no means simple: a tornado devastates Jersey Cameron’s hometown and she survives but loses her mom, little sister and her home. Left with a stepfather who is inconsolable and irrational in his grief (he made me so, so angry!) and as a result unwilling to care for Jersey, she’s dumped from one relative to the next. First her biological father and then later her maternal grandparents and did I mention she’s never had any form of communication with either of these people before in her life? It’s a lot for one person to deal with, on top of the gravity of her loss.

I’ve never experienced or seen a tornado (thankfully!) but I felt like the author managed to capture the panic and disaster than can be left behind in its wake. Jersey is alone during the tornado and only has close neighbors to rely on as everyone takes in the wreckage. But all Jersey can think about is her mother and sister. The moment she realizes they’re gone? Absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t even imagine. She’s grieving and that grief is palpable. Then her stepfather who she’s never felt particularly connected to is physically there but not really, there there. So he brings her to her biological father and his extended family. I don’t think I’ve met people so awful and as unfeeling as this group. I had to remind myself many times that this was fiction because I was getting so angry on Jersey’s behalf.

Next, she’s taken to her maternal grandparents. Jersey’s mom raised her to believe that her grandparents didn’t want anything to do with their family. So when Jersey meets them for the first time, it’s hard to separate the kindness she sees right in front of her with her mother’s words. It'a such a complex dynamic and period in Jersey’s life. As if her grief and how much she misses her mom and sister isn’t enough, she’s also learning about a different side to her mom. Learning that while her dad really isn’t a great guy, her grandparents could be the loving extended family she’s been looking for. The author just expertly weaved all these sensitive and emotional stories through the eyes of one girl.

(No) reservations
None! If anything, I maybe just wanted a few more pages but only because I felt invested in Jersey and her journey. So of course I wanted more!

Do I recommend?
I do! This is my second Jennifer Brown book and you can definitely count me as a fan. I put the read of her books on my TBR list after reading this and I highly recommend checking out her books.

Happy reading!

1 comment

  1. Torn Away was one of the best books I read this year! I just love how quickly I took to Jersey, and how her story was both heartbreaking and hopeful. Jennifer Brown's writing is wonderful, and I definitely look forward to reading more of her novels!


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