Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner

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

Review: Can’t Look Away by Donna CoonerCan't Look Away by Donna Cooner
Published by Point on August 26th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Point
Buy on Amazon

Donna Cooner establishes herself as our own Jodi Picoult in this timely tale of sisters, loss, and redemption.

Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey's sister is killed in an accident -- maybe because of Torrey and her videos -- Torrey's perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn't know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey's internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there's Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?

What an interesting book this was to read for someone who has an online presence. Granted, my online presence is nothing compared to the thousands upon thousands of fans beauty vlogger Torrey Grey had in this book, but I do put myself out there for the public just as she did in the novel. Can’t Look Away was a pitch perfect contemporary that features a lot of honesty, a sweet romance and just enough heartbreak to really pull at your heartstrings.

We meet Torrey Grey right after her family moves from Colorado to Texas. They decide to make the move shortly after Torrey’s younger sister, Miranda, is hit and killed by a drunk driver. From the very first pages of this book I knew that it was going to be a heart wrenching tale. The memories that Torrey has of her sister as she comes to grips with her unfortunate role in her death really heighten the emotion and leave you thinking about those gone much too soon. I loved the addition of the flashback memories that we get of Miranda, I felt like even though she died before the first page of the novel, I came to know her and really like her. I also appreciated the fact that even though Torrey did play a part in her sister’s death, in that she had taken her to the mall that day and was the one who fought with her causing her to storm off into the intersection, she wasn’t ostracized from her family for it. So often in novels like this we see the MC dealing with resentment from her family in light of what happened, but we got to watch the family organically come to grips with what has torn them apart without the anger that so often accompanies it.

A great addition to the story was getting to see Torrey come to terms with everything in her own little public eye. She had made quite a name for herself on YouTube since she began vlogging about shopping hauls and beauty tips, even going so far as being featured in TeenVogue among other outlets. She faces a lot of judgment after her sister’s death (made even worse by her “friend” posting a video of the fight right before the accident) and really struggles with deciding if her online life is something that she wants anymore. I enjoyed watching Torrey’s journey throughout the novel. She starts out incredibly shallow, not wanting to like who she likes because he isn’t popular and even not wanted to be seen with her cousin because she’s quirky, but she makes strides towards becoming a better person as the novel wears on. She opens herself up to the idea that perfection isn’t everything and that the opinion of the public shouldn’t decide her worth. Intermingled in her finding herself we get a really sweet romance with a boy named Luis who was awesome. His thoughtfulness and caring that he showed toward Torrey had my melting at so many different points in the novel.

All in all Can’t Look Away is a very good contemporary novel that has just the right amount of everything mixed in to have you hanging on every word. I mean, if the romance, emotion and friendships aren’t enough there is even a cat named Stu whose personality jumps off the page with the best of them. I think this one is a surefire hit for any contemporary lover out there like myself.


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10 Responses to “Review: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner”

  1. Laura Plus Books

    Hhhhmmm I’m really curious about this one. I don’t know if I’m ready to read it though. Is that weird? Even though I love watching ‘beauty gurus’ and such, I don’t think I’m ready for them to become fictionalised in a book. 😛 You’ve definitely sparked my interest though so thank you for sharing! Lovely review Jenni. 😀

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I really liked this one too although I have to admit that I was a bit frustrated with Torey’s obsession with being friends with the popular kids and then dismissing Luis and treating him poorly in front of them. I think I liked Luis too much which is why it annoyed me so much. I did enjoy Torrey’s growth throughout the book though and I loved the elements of being a Youtube star.
    Lovely review, Jenni. 🙂

  3. Soma Rostam

    Well, this is the first time I hear of this book. But it does sound very intriguing and unique
    And i love the idea that it is based on online popularity
    GREAT review
    As always!
    Your reader,
    Soma R>

  4. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Oh I want to try this one! (Yes, always up for a gut-wrenching read, right? 😉 Does it go into the vlogging part though? I’m always interested when a book is about online-life, buuut…the ones I’ve tried haven’t actually ever DEALT with the on-line life. They sort of gloss over it and I get disappointed. x) Definitely adding this to the TBR.