I received TORN AWAY by Jennifer Brown through the Early Review program, the Hachette Bonus Batch.
I’m not really into tragic teen stories. I like adventure and faerie tales, so this wasn’t the perfect book for me at first blush. However, within a half an hour of picking it up, I was over 60 pages into the book. It’s a very easy, well-paced read. The tragedy seems a bit lightly treated at times – the main character, Jersey, seems to make great leaps and strides in healing awfully quickly – however, I was delighted, by the end, to feel like the title had a new and deeper meaning. I don’t think the title refers to her home or family being torn away, ultimately. I think the title refers to illusion and lies being torn away.
The process of both her life as she knew it and the lies that created it being torn away is started by the tornado tearing away her mother and sister, yes, but Jersey continues to find bits and pieces of her life being slowly torn away and I was surprised to feel like that was a *good* thing. While I by no means think the tragic deaths of a mother and sister are good things, the aftermath was *incredibly good* for Jersey.
I do wish there had been a little more resolution in the book. Jersey ends up in a lot of bad, difficult situations and they don’t really resolve … they just end. And then she picks up and moves on. I feel like we missed some *vital* moments of her making peace with those bad situations before we saw her happier and healthier when the book ended.
But, as I said, I did enjoy feeling like the context of the book dramatically changed by the end and I would be interested to re-read the book with this new context. I will likely pick it up again!
B+ (layered meanings, well-paced writing; light treatment of tragedy, lack of resolution)
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