Author: Jennifer Brown
Publish Date: May 6th, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.
When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with relatives she hardly knows-family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?
In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.
This was my first Jennifer Brown book and I have to say that I love it.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this book. I knew that it had gotten extremely good reviews but I wasn’t expecting it to make me cry. I rarely cry when it comes to books but this one easily made me tear up.
Torn Away was a fantastically poignant novel. It captured every aspect of loss. The characters were written amazingly well. On top of this, the writing and voice of Jersey fit. You know how sometimes the book is about teenagers but then the characters and the writing doesn’t really sound like them? (cough John Green cough) In some cases, it’s bearable, but most of the time, I prefer to have characters that sound like their own age (of course there are exceptions based on the circumstances). In Torn Away I loved the writing and I loved the characters. Jersey was one of the most believable characters I have ever read about. She has that bratty teenage personality and she isn’t perfect. When she realizes what had happened to her town, she kind of panics (which is expected) and the way she handled everything was so realistic. A lot of the things she does are what I would have done in the same situation. I would have begged to stay with a broken guardian. I would have begged my friends to ask their parents if I could stay with them. I would have faced the situation similarly. And that’s what made this novel shine. The characters were raw and nothing was left to the imagination. Everything from her opinion on her parents, siblings, friends, and the aftermath is explored.
One of the biggest things that this book explores well is the question of if your family was right or wrong. In Jersey’s case, her mother had always said that her father and grandparents had abandoned her. With the tornado, everything she had begun to believe about her family is brought into question. The grieving is portrayed extremely well.
In the end, what caused me to tear up wasn’t the death of anybody. It was the desperate way that Jersey tried to defend her dead family when her bitchy half-sisters crudely insulted them. The painful emotions that she felt because of the lack of support she had. That was what caused me to cry.
“Growing up, we were taught over and over again what steps to take in case of an approaching tornado. Listen for sirens, go to your basement or cellar, or a closet in the center of your house, duck and cover, wait it out. We had drills twice a year, every year, in school. We talked about it in class. We talked about it at home. The newscasters reminded us. We went to the basement. We practiced, practiced, practiced.
But we’d never–not once–discussed what to do after.”
The plot was well-done, but not really the type that I love. It showed how when you lose everything you’ve ever known, finding a home can be difficult. Jersey is bounced around non-stop, none of her family ever actually wanting to keep her. It felt believable, but while reading, I found that it felt kind of aimless. I had no clue how Jersey would ever find a place to stay. It all worked in the end though.
I really liked that romance was the last aspect addressed. In a lot of books, as soon as something bad happens, the female protagonist goes into the arms of a boy she likes. Someone “nice” that she’s had a crush on for a while or a friend that she opens up to in a moment of weakness. Jersey clearly had better things to worry about than boys. Ain’t nobody got time to worry about love when they don’t have a home. Kolby was a good character. He was somebody that Jersey leaned on at times, but never once during the rising action or climax did they become anything more than friends (which is how it should be during traumatizing events).