May 4, 2014

Review: Torn Away

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Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Grade: A
Release date: May 6, 2014
This e-galley was provided by Netgalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
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.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: You might guess from the summary that this book is sad.  I honestly didn't expect to tear up, though.  I loved how all the different relationships flowed together: how Jersey loved her little sister and her mother, how her maternal grandparents cared about her, and how her father didn't care a whit about her.  I had expected Jersey's breakdown for the whole book, and when it came, it felt right.  Her emotions exploded off the page through the whole story.  I felt for her so deeply when her half-sisters went through Marin's purse and ruined everything Jersey had treasured.  My one complaint is that the book felt too short, and I wanted to see more of Jersey living with her maternal grandparents because the healthy environment and the love she received there warmed me to my toes and also made me cry.  I was also bothered by Lexi, Meg, and Marin being called Jersey's stepsisters.  If they share one biological parent with her, wouldn't that make them half-sisters?  But on a related note, Jersey always emphasized that Marin was her sister (no step or half about it), and that was sweet.
Romance was very clean, and violence was fairly appropriate (although the tornado and resulting deaths may upset some readers).  Language was the worst, but thankfully, it stayed PG or PG-13 most of the time.

The Verdict: Definitely a must read.  I snatched up Torn Away when they had it available for the first 500 readers on Netgalley, and I don't regret it at all.  I read it rather quickly, but I look forward to enjoying it again and again.

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