ARC Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

ARC Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Torn Away
by Jennifer Brown

Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication date: May 6th, 2014
by Brown Books for Young Readers

Format: eARC

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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.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

“But we’d never—not once—discussed what to do after.”

This book is one tough nut to review, mostly because after finishing it you will not feel like a tough nut, you’ll feel like someone has smashed your insides and you’ll have no idea what to do or read. Or at least that was the case for me.

I’ve had my eyes on Jennifer Brown’s works for some time now, but for some reason, I still hadn’t picked up any of her works. Then Torn Away came. This book changed my world and I am only sorry I didn’t read any of Brown’s works earlier.

Torn Away is a very heartfelt story. It tells a tale of loss and loneliness, but ultimately, this is not a tale of hopelessness. In fact, it deals with finally having faith in yourself and learning to heal.

I’ve always been morbidly fascinated with natural disasters. I have no idea why; perhaps because I’ve never really been in one. I’ve never had to experience that pain, fear, and loss. Through the eyes of our main character though, I got to share with her experience. I was terrified and scared and so, so, completely alone, and for the first time these natural disasters weren’t just something I hear about on the news – I experienced the aftermath of one and I cannot tell you how heartbreaking it was to read this book.

Jersey lost everything. Her house was torn away, her mother and younger sister died. Her world fell apart around her. She had no one left. Her step-father didn’t want her because of his own profound grief, her biological father didn’t give a rat’s ass about her, her ‘step-family’ wanted her gone, and her own paternal grandparents didn’t care. Her friends couldn’t help her and she was all alone in the world. Can you imagine what that must be like? I cannot. I couldn’t, and after reading this, I never want to have to live through that. Jersey doesn’t just magically start healing; it’s a long process. She’s been thrown around and no one wants her anymore. Her family is gone. She never got a chance to say goodbye or to tell them how much she loved them. She never got the chance to fully appreciate what she had until it was gone. How does one start healing from a loss so profound? There were times I had to get up and stop because I really couldn’t continue. I was so overwhelmed with emotions. My heart was breaking and I just wanted to hug Jersey so much. She remained so strong in spite of the situation. She may have thrown tantrums; she may have been overly emotional or just annoying with her need to be saved, but I was NEVER bothered by any of her actions. She held herself together in a situation where others might have had a complete breakdown. Hell, look at her step-father – he couldn’t keep it together long enough to help a young girl who needed him more than anything else.

Jennifer did an amazing job with Jersey’s character, but she also threw in a bunch of other wonderful secondary characters, my favorite being Kolby. I am not sure what it was about him that made me like him so much. Perhaps it was his normality and how for the moments he was present, he lent Jersey his support. He let her comfort herself with lies. He never encouraged them but he gave her that room to hope instead of crushing it.

Her maternal grandparents were such a sweet bunch. Especially compared to her paternal parents. It was touching to see how they tried, in their own way, to give her room, but at the same time they tried to help her heal.

Jennifer Brown is so clearly talented. The scenes she paints, the characters she creates – they are all so beautiful and scary at the same time.

I remember the scenes after the tornado. Everyone was trying to help one another, trying to find the injured people and their relatives, trying to stick together. There was all this confusion. In the end, it was all just truly heartbreaking.

I keep on using the term “heartbreaking” but there seems to be no other adjective that fits this book better. It truly tears out your heart and forces even the heartless (like me) to feel and even tear up a little.

I will definitely not hesitate to buy Jennifer Brown novels in the future because if Torn Away is any indication of what awaits me in her other works, then I definitely want more. I recommend this to EVERY PERSON who wants to take on a darker (in terms of emotions) contemporary novel.

Note that all quotes have been taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change

Rating Report
Characters
Writing
Impact
Overall: 4.2
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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    I loooooove Jennifer Brown. Love love love how hew work is always different from other stuff out there. These books always make you think and I just.. I love her writing lol. Anyhow, I’m so intrigued with this concept. It’s not something you read every day even though it’s very.. not unusual. I’m glad you and I live in a place where there are no hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes. I imagine that it’d be a long process to heal and lols! I bet I’d be just as emotional as you were and yay for great grandparents :) I can’t wait to read this pretty and I’M SO FREAKING GLAD YOU ENJOYED, LOVE!
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Believe by Erin McCarthyMy Profile

  2. says

    I know what you mean, I’ve had my eyes on Jennifer Brown’s work for a while now and I’m almost scared to pick them up because of heartbreak they are going to leave me in. I did read a bit of Hate List, it was amazing; realistic and honest. Great review, I’ll be checking this one out :)

  3. says

    Wow. Just reading your review already makes me feel so much for Jersey…I can only imagine how utterly heartbreaking this book and I’m kind of scared to read it, this will definitely be tough read for me. I didn’t realize that she’s the same author of Hate List! I’ve never read that either but I was also thinking about. I’m glad you enjoyed this Rashika, awesome review :)
    Amir recently posted…Audiobook Review: Written in Red by Anne BishopMy Profile

  4. says

    WORD. I’m glad you liked this (crap books make me sad :( ). And I totally get your fascination with natural disasters. I grew up hearing stories about the tornado that tore through my grandparents’ yard when I was a baby that I SLEPT THROUGH. I still feel cheated. And I’ll definitely put this on my YA contemporary list. I don’t mind the darker emotions as long as no one’s dying of cancer . . .
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle MeadMy Profile

  5. says

    As someone who has spent the majority of my life living in Tornado Alley, this sounds really interesting…and right up my alley! And I LOVE Jennifer Brown’s writing style as well – she’s got such a beautiful prose. :D But I’m really glad this worked out for you Rashika! Definitely going to have to give this one a try. Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review! It’s good to see you back! <3
    Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf recently posted…Prisoner of Night and FogMy Profile

  6. says

    I’m sure this one will get me to tear up. I don’t know what it is about natural disasters, but I find them quite morbidly fascinating too. I mean, you certainly don’t get tornadoes or earthquakes or even floods in London. I just can’t imagine being in such a helpless position. I am reading this next and really look forward to it, especially as it’s my first Brown book. Great review, Rashika!
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanMy Profile

  7. says

    This one look interesting! I’ve never actually read a book by Jennifer and this one seems like a great place to start.

    This one seems simply gut wrenching and full of sad emotions. So, I’ll probably scream with grief for the characters and yet end up loving it. Also, alike you I’ve always had an odd fascination with all things meteorological. Same with deadly animals, but that’s a whole other story. It’s crazy how strong natural disasters really are, and how destructive they can be. Not only to buildings, but to individuals themselves. It definitely would have an a effect on somebody like Jersey, I’m interested to see how she deals with all of the gut wrenching pain of losing everything. Her personal journey is one that seems plagued by obstacles and one that will have a profound impact on myself when I read it.

    Lovely review <33
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-MartinMy Profile

  8. says

    Rashika what a beautiful review. I have never tried Brown, but it sounds like she brings her characters to life and allows you to connect on the most primitive levels. I love when an author can leave me curled in a fetal position and in need of truffles!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Cress by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

  9. Vivien says

    Wow what an excellent review!! I already wanted to read this one based on the author. I’ve really enjoyed her in the past. In fact I loved Hate List. This sounds fantastic!