Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Netgalley/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4 out of 5
I’ve always known that Jennifer Brown is queen of writing hard-hitting, darker contemporaries that really yank at the reader’s heartstrings in such a profound manner from my experience of reading Hate List. Torn Away, Brown’s most recent contemporary release, is just as impressive and poignant. Readers journey along with Jersey, a teenage girl whose mom and sister died in a massive tornado storm. We follow her story of recovery as she overcomes her struggles of grief. Torn Away, while a heavy read, is also uplifting and hopeful for those who are trying to conquer a traumatic experience.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Torn Away is the simplistic manner in which readers can see the visible growth of the main character, Jersey. Jersey starts off as a typical teenage girl who is constantly annoyed by her mother’s frequent nagging, and her little sister’s incessant whining. However, the length at which Brown creates this grieving girl is astounding; after the tornado hits her town and destroys everything in its path, readers are left with a girl who is mentally wounded and lost, one who has to search for a new family as well as herself. Jersey was pessimistic at first, denying all the help she was given by other people because of the fact that she wants her life to be back to normal. This can be seen as a flaw in her character, but it seems more like a natural tendency in Jersey’s case– to reject anything happy when all was lost. Towards the end however, Jersey opens up her arms to the people who love and care about her, uplifting the mood and leaving readers satisfied and content.
Another aspect in Torn Away that I wholeheartedly enjoyed was the fact that there was no romance throughout the entire story. You heard me correctly! Never have I read a story where the plot doesn’t center around a couple/love triangle. Brown manages to write a story that still packs a punch without the addition of a swoon-worthy boy. Well done, Brown!
So if you’re looking for a unique storyline that deals with the effects of natural disasters, grief, and family, pick up Torn Away! This story is surely unforgettable because of the way Brown writes the story and highlights Jersey’s character progression in a satisfactory way. And don’t forget–this story is unique in itself because it’s successful without a romance! I will undoubtedly be picking up Brown’s future contemporary novels after loving her most recent one.