Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

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I received this book for free from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Torn Away by Jennifer BrownTorn Away by Jennifer Brown
Published by Little Brown BfYR on May 6th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Hachette Book Group Canada
Buy on Amazon

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.

This is one of those rare books that touched me to my very core. Jersey’s tragic loss makes you realize what’s really important in life, and re-defines your priorities. I’ve been a fan of Jennifer Brown since the first one I read, but Torn Away is definitely my favorite thus far. To get the best experience out of this book I recommend only skimming the blurb – or not reading it at all. I only read it afterwards, myself, and find it sums up too much of the story. Not having a clue what’s coming next for Jersey makes this story all the more poignant. It’s about a tornado, and it’s a tragedy. That’s all you need to know.

Natural disasters are scarier than any villain. Their damage is unstoppable, even often unanticipated. They can destroy a life in a matter of seconds. This is what happens to Jersey. This is the kind of story that breaks your heart from the very start, and it continues to tear itself apart until the last page. This author has incredible talent in pulling the reader in, one hundred percent. She put my whole self inside Jersey’s head. I adopted her grief, her loneliness; her emotional state became my own. And let me tell you, walking in her shoes is one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. Jersey’s whole world is literally swept inside a twister and whisked away. It does not end there, either, the tornado is only the beginning of this downfall. Having no relatives to turn to, she finds herself completely and utterly alone. Imagine hitting rock bottom, yet somehow continuing to fall. Or pushed down, more like. Imagine being 16 years old and, from one day to the next, finding yourself with no family, no home, no belongings… So get your box of tissues ready, you will need them!

A potent story like this cannot be achieved without crafting an incredible character to display its heart and soul. Jersey’s situation is a worst case scenario in many ways. All stages of her grief from denial, to anger, to acceptance, is depicted realistically. Not only that, but her situation forces her to grab onto strength she didn’t know she had. I admired her throughout. With no one left to tell her what to do, to encourage her, to soothe her, to help her, her life is up to her now. She realized this, that she had to take control, even though all she wanted to do was curl up and cry – understandably so. I applauded her for taking charge of her life. Ultimately, it is not only pain and heartache, we eventually get some light at the end of this darker-than-night tunnel. But I can tell you one thing, it’s a book that will make you appreciate everything you have. It will make you want to hug every person you love and never let them go.

Torn Away is a story about tragedy, but more importantly, it’s a story about family, love, hope, and learning to climb up from rock bottom. I, for one, am a Jennifer Brown fan for life!


5 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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29 Responses to “Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown”

  1. Kate- Midnight Book Girl

    I am so all over this book! I lived in Oklahoma for 10 years and my friends and inlaws are still the (I made my Okie Hubs move to the east coast). I was very lucky during my stay there, but I’m always on edge for my loved ones during tornado season.
    Also, Jennifer Brown is a wonderful writer and I can’t wait to read this one!

  2. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    I almost never read blurbs anymore because I find they are either too revealing, or don’t give a good picture of the story at all. Jennifer Brown sounds like an amazingly talented author, and I can’t wait to discover her for myself. Great review!

    • Giselle

      Aww this is one of the best compliments as a reviewer I’ve ever gotten! I hope you love it as much as I did I still remember how emotional it made it (I read this a few months back). <3

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Your review makes this sound really really sad, but at the same time very hopeful too. I can’t imagine the grief that Jersey goes through after the disaster. I’m glad to hear that the author captured her voice so well. I haven’t read anything by Jennifer Brown yet although I’ve heard nothing but praise for her writing style, but I think I’m going to start with this.
    Lovely review, Giselle.

  4. Mary @ BookSwarm

    AW! I’m feeling terrible for poor Jersey. And, dang, that’s some good writing when it allows you to fully submerse yourself in the character’s head and feel what they’re feeling. *adds to list*

  5. Faye @ The Social Potato

    My co-blogger, Rashika, reviewed this not too long ago and both of you pretty much said the same points, which makes me scared to read this considering my country is prone to disasters. We get disastrous typhoons, volcanic eruptions, regular earthquakes, and sometimes even tsunamis, that as a people, we have been kinda trained to always expect the worse (and hope for the best) when it comes to natural disasters. They are really scary. I haven’t lost anyone yet, but I know many who do (had a friend whose whole family lived in the island of Leyte. And when the typhoon struck, bringing with it a merciless sea surge, it took everything away from him – family, belongings, friends. He only survived because he’s studying university in the capital >_<). I have a feeling this one will hit too close to home 🙁 It will definitely be in my TBR list though!

    • Giselle

      Oh wow that sounds so scary! Luckily I’m in a very climate disaster free area – we get a ton of snow and stuff but nothing newsworthy, but I’m still weirdly terrified of them. I really can’t imagine how it feels to live through something like typhoons and earthquakes! And that movie Volcano have you seen it? It’s super old but it totally freaked me out!! It must be even worse to know someone you love is being struck by a natural disaster and there’s nothing you can do about it. This is exactly what this book is about and it really breaks your heart. I bet you would be able to relate to it a great deal so get your box of tissues ready!

  6. Amanda @ Book Badger

    Oh wow Giselle! This book just sounds so achingly painful, I’m so torn about wanting to read it or not. I like those that have me falling apart, but I don’t want to be crying all the time, so I think I’ll definitely be trying to keep a look out for this soon and seeing how I feel. Beautiful review though 🙂

  7. Siiri

    I know about a tornado and ha! It’s funny to hear that you advise me to now know about anything else 😀 I hear from Rashika that this is so emotional and I’m so glad to hear that it brought your emotions out as well 🙂 Ah, yes! Ms. Brown writes amazing characters. So so so glad to hear you enjoyed 🙂

  8. Kristin

    This sounds amazing. I can’t believe this is the first time I’m hearing about this book. I’m terrified of tornadoes. No, seriously. It’s right up there with spiders and heights. I have got to get my hands on this book.
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous

  9. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    This looks like a really powerful read.It seems like it is beautifully done. I loved that you gave it 5 stars and that you say it will make you reexamine your priorities in life. I love it when books make me think long and hard about something in a new way.

    Great review Giselle.

  10. Kelsey

    I think I definitely have to read this after reading your review. It seems like an emotional but deep contemporary, and I have just added it to my wishlist!

  11. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    Jersey’s story sounds emotional and I will be keeping an eye out for it. Growing up in Florida we dealt with hurricanes, they were scary but at least with them we had notice and could prepare. A couple of years ago, we had one go through, and it flooded so bad it came up through the foundation of the house and flooded the house inside, so anything on the floors were ruined and it was horrible. Wonderful review.

  12. Juhina

    wow I got goosebumps just reading your review.. i now seriously need to get my hands on a copy.. natural disasters know no mercy and it is quite sad seeing families misplaced and children orphaned and alone in this world..

    great review Giselle,
    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  13. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    I haven’t read a single Jennifer Brown book yet but your review has totally made me want to get my hands on one of her books because of the positive reviews I’ve read of all her books, and especially how emotional this book seems to be. Natural disasters are definitely a huge tragedy, and it seems like Jennifer handled the subject and Jersey’s character flawlessly 🙂 Fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  14. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    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. 😀 But I’m really glad this worked out for you Giselle! Definitely going to have to give this one a try. Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review!

  15. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Incredible review, Giselle! I hadn’t paid much attention to this book before reading this, but now I am going to read it, and I’m going to read it SOON. You are right–natural disasters are more terrifying than just about everything else out there, and a story that tracks the aftermath for a particular individual, whose story breaks your heart while still managing to inspire hope? I am SO there.

  16. Jasprit

    Wow this is an amazing review Giselle, once again for some reason I read the blurb a few weeks back and thought that this book wouldn’t be for me 🙁 I will definitely be giving this book a go now though after reading your review, I love just how many feelings Brown evoked within you with this book!

  17. Nara

    You know, I was thinking about it, and I don’t think I’ve ever really read a book about natural disasters! It’s not a very common theme in YA, I suppose.
    I’ve read a few of Jennifer Brown’s other books, and have enjoyed them (Hate List made me cry- and it’s one of seven books that have ever done so), so I’m thinking I definitely need to get my hands on a copy of this once it comes out. Along with a box of tissues.

  18. Vi

    Hmmm, interesting. I like the sound of this. And you gave it 5 stars/espresso cups? Gotta add it to the list now, lol.