Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Source: e-arc from publisher
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.
Having just set this book down, I would have to say that it's definitely my most surprising read of the year. I expected a great story because Jennifer Brown always delivers but I was blown out of the water by the story and characters Jennifer poured into Torn Away.
Being a Florida girl, we get lots of hurricanes down here and the occasional tornado. But to be honest I'd have to say I'd rather have a million hurricanes than one tornado. Tornados are some of the most destructive things I've ever seen and it's terrifying to think that they're something you can't defend yourself against. There's only hope and Jersey, the main character, lives through it all. She was the perfect portrayal of a teenager going through tough times. Her character felt genuine in the fact that she had no idea what she was going to do next most of the time.
I think what hit me the most was the normalcy of life right before the tornado hit and changed Jersey's life forever. It really opened my mind to the fact that your life can change at any moment with little notice. Jersey thought her baby sister, Marin, was the most annoying thing just ten minutes before the storm hit. How could she know she would never see her again? The moment right after the storm, before she knew what had happened to her family was one of the hardest parts for me to get through because as the reader, we know what's coming but Jersey's still so oblivious to the reality of the situation. She's still talking about what they're going to do when her mom comes home, homework assignments and all sorts of inconsequential things. Jennifer Brown manages to create that normalcy before the chaos in both of the books I've read by her and that's what makes her books so powerful and filled with raw emotion.
The people and circumstance Jersey had to deal with pained me to no end. I was so attached to Jersey that I found myself suffering through everything right along with her. I wish I could go into more detail but this is just a book you're going to have to pick up and devour for yourself.
Although this might seem a bit repetitive, I can't help but emphasize what an emotional read this was. I can probably count on my hands the amount of books or movies that have made me cry, but this book had me tearing up every few chapters, sometimes from sadness, other times from outrage and finally from happiness. The flashbacks and memories were perfect, bittersweet moments sprinkled throughout the story. I needed this type of book at this precise time and I loved every single moment I spent with it. This for sure is one of my favorite books this year and I recommend it for anyone in need of a fantastic story about life, discovery and most importantly, family.
★ ★ ★ ★★
"I thought I knew so much-- knew there was laundry to be done, knew when mom and Marin would come home, knew how the rest of the evening was going to go. But I didn't know anything. I had no idea."
"How depressingly ironic that the one person I needed to give me strength to face my mom's death was the one who'd died."
"I didn't want to hear anyone else tell me they were sorry. What did I'm sorry mean, exactly, when someone had died? Wouldn't it be much more accurate to say I'm grateful when someone close to you was hit by tragedy? I'm grateful, as in, I'm grateful that this didn't happen to me. At least that would be honest."
"The hearts that beat for me were long gone."
"It occurred to me that nobody was going to say one way or another whether I needed or didn't need a haircut. Or a visit to the dentist. Or to study or to learn to drive or to eat regularly or do any of the things I was used to being reminded to do. It was all up to me now, a thought that was both empowering and frightening as hell."
"She met her other granddaughter that way, one chewed-up memory at a time."
Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer's weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.
Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.