Thursday, November 20, 2014


Title: Torn Away
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


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.


It seldom happens that a book captivates me to the extent that I would set aside all else and simply read through it without stopping. This, however, was the case with Torn Away. Irritated with her little sister's pleas to dance, glad that said sister is out of the way and off to dance class, Jersey is just ready to start cooking a meal for her family when the tornado sirens go off. How Jersey wished, after the disastrous tornado, that she had danced with her sister or spent more time with her mother.

I simply couldn't put this book down. The vivid and absolutely horrifying descriptions of the tornado, the devastation afterwards, and the lost feeling of, not only the main character, but everybody who had been affected, kept me turning the pages.

Although I certainly didn't always agree with Jersey's thoughts and decisions, I feel that the author created a truly believable character. I could honestly feel Jersey's sense of denial after she had lost everything, and her desperate despair when she was separated from everything familiar and taken to relatives whom she didn't know at all. Throughout the story Jersey finds herself in realistic scenarios—never unimaginably horrible nor magically good.

When Jersey's friend is forced by her mother to betray her, Jersey seems hurt, yet understands that it was the parent, not the friend, who did the betraying. Unfortunately she has a much less mature attitude towards her maternal grandparents.

For a touching story of devastation, loss, personal growth, and an end that is so poignant that it would be wise to keep the Kleenex close to hand, I highly recommend Torn Away as a read that will stay with you long after you have read the final page.

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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's debut novel, HATE LIST (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009) received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. HATE LIST also won the Michigan Library Association's Thumbs Up! Award, the Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award, the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, was an honorable mention for the 2011 Arkansas Teen Book Award, is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback, received spots on the Texas Library Association's Taysha's high school reading list as well as the Missouri Library Association's Missouri Gateway Awards list, and has been chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Jennifer's second novel, BITTER END, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and is a 2012 Taysha's high school reading list pick as well.

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.


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