Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Title: Torn Away
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Pages: 276
Source: ARC, ALA

Summary from Goodreads:
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.


Let me start by saying that I am a huge Jennifer Brown fan. I think she has a way with storytelling and dealing with tough subjects that is unparalleled. I will always recommend her work to others. 

The first 100 pages of this book blew me away. I could see and sense the destruction left behind in the wake of the tornado. I could feel the fear, confusion, and pain of  the townspeople. I could understand the waring hope and hopelessness within Jersey as she waited for her family to come home. These 100 pages were spellbinding and the epitome of everything I love about Jennifer Brown's writing. 

But after that I lost my connection with the story. Jersey is sent to live with her biological father and I was shocked over the lack of compassion this family had and furious over how they treated Jersey. Their behavior was so foreign to me that consequently it didn't feel real. 

And then when Jersey is sent to live with her grandparents on her mother's side I got mad at her. She has never met her grandparents before. They disowned her mother when she got pregnant with Jersey and so Jersey was raised believing they were horrible, judgmental people. Yet when they pick her up, they show her nothing but patience and kindness, and still Jersey treats them horribly. Now, I am very sensitive to treating old people unkindly, especially when they don't deserve it, but I understand this is a personal thing. Nevertheless, I was mad that it took Jersey so long to form her own opinion of her grandparents. Especially since, in hindsight, I feel she was blessed to have gotten away from that train wreck of a family on her father's side. 

But I can't imagine losing everything in an instant - my home and my family - and being taken away from whatever normalcy remains without being allowed to grieve. Jersey was overwhelmed with so many different feelings, and just trying to hold it together while her life got turned upside down. In that regard, I think she was incredibly strong. And I think, given the circumstances, she's allowed to act a little erratically. 

This was not my favorite Jennifer Brown book, but like I said, I would recommend any of her books. I had some problems with Torn Away that kept me from loving it, but I don't think everyone will feel the same.

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