Monday, July 21, 2014

Brandi Breathes Books Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Torn Away
Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
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
Publishes in US: May 6th 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: ya contemp
Source: Little Brown via Netgalley
Series? no

Buy it:  Amazon IndieBound Book Depository

Author stalk away:~site Twitter blog


    I wanted to read Torn Away because the aftermath of a devastating tornado sounds like the perfect storm of emotions, powerful grief and sense of loneliness and desperation. I have also read other books by Jennifer Brown and enjoyed so this would appeal to me for that reason even if the synopsis didn't grab me, which it did. 

    We get a little snapshot of Jersey's life before the tornado hit, but it was a powerful one. It is a memory of telling her little sister to go away, and those words as well as how often she ignored her requests to play would haunt her after the storm hit her house and she is afraid of the fate of her sister and that of her mom. We see some exasperation with Jersey and her mom requesting her to do chores, and Jersey's reminiscing how she would feel less burdened by helping when it was just her and her mom, but it is harder on her know that her mom is remarried and the number of people have doubled. We can see that her and her mom had a close relationship even with the current teenage entitlement and bucking against what asked to do. 

   When the tornado hits, there is automatic fear and a great sense of loss. Not only was Jersey worried about her whole family who wasn't at home, but seeing the devastation of the storm on their house and belongings. When the storm passes and she makes her way outside she sees so much of her neighborhood and everything she can see is torn up. Even the roads, so they are cut off from emergency vehicles. 

    The neighbors band together as much as possible at first, searching for survivors in the wreckage and figuring out shelter from the following rain and thunderstorms. That knitting together in tragedy when so much in uncertain kept some lightness even though it was such a harrowing situation to be in. Helping and giving what's left of your possessions when you are dealing with your own sense of loss shows to the goodness that is in so many people. 

    Jersey was a mix of strong and vulnerable. Opening up to her friends and neighbor who helped her too right after the tornado hit was where we could see how much she was struggling. But she just keeps dealing with each challenge and figuring out some way to survive. She has this honesty in her voice, where we know that she is going through a lot, but she somehow manages to keep some optimism. 

    It was a long road for Jersey to even get to a place where she felt wanted and loved, but I was pleased at how the story wrapped up. Maybe a bit more time with her final living arrangements but I did like that it wasn't perfect for her right away and that she learned more of the young side of her mom who made mistakes in her life as well as how she portrayed extended family. 

Bottom Line: Powerful and emotional story about a town and in particular one strong teen devastated by a tornado.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever been closely involved with a natural disaster?


  1. kirstymariejonesstudioreadsJuly 21, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    Haven't read any of Jennifer Brown's, though I've read mixed things about hers which is why I haven't read any yet, haha. Does sounds pretty emotional though, and I've never read any books to do with Natural Disasters yet, so that'll be different. Jersey sounds realistically flawed, and love that she still looks on the bright side. :)
    I've been out in Hurricane winds, if that counts? Otherwise just floods mainly.

  2. Jersey sounds like a wonderful and resilient character, especially when faced with loss like this. Glad you enjoyed this one Brandi :)

  3. This does sound powerful and I love how the community rallies. Jersey sounds like a strong character. So glad you enjoyed this Brandi!

  4. Oh goodness. I love Brown's books. I'm glad you enjoyed this as a whole. I can't wait to read this. It sounds so horrible and emotional, yet so lovable too.

  5. It's nice to see you were happy about the whole end. I haven't read a book by her but maybe I should

  6. I'll have to read this one soon as it sounds like something I'd love to read. I like powerful and emotional reads. So glad you enjoyed this one. Great review, Brandi :)

  7. I don't think I have ever read a book where a tornado has hit. Or where it's part of the story. I like the idea of it, especially since tornado's devastate a lot of lives.

  8. Melissa (Books and Things)July 21, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    This sounds pretty good. I really like the sound of Jersey's character!

  9. Tornado sounds so horrible, I am glad we do not have them here

  10. I've not seen many reviews on this book, but it sounds pretty interesting and you now have me curious about it. I live in a place that gets tornado's so this sounds like a pretty horrific experience to get through. Great review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  11. This does seem like it would be a powerful and emotional read. And a book that would be great at showing character depth and development. Torn does sounds interesting.

    Great review!

  12. Oh gosh, this sounds like a good one. I don't think I have really read a book recently with a tornado, it sounds different. Thankfully, no I haven't been closely involved with a natural disaster.

  13. Yeah, this has such an interesting premise. I've never been part of the destruction from a tornado, but several deadly ones have affected very close to home. It's devastating. Thanks for the review!

  14. Wow, definitely an interesting premise. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I have an ARC of this one but i wasn't completely sold on the idea of reading it but your review has me wanting to move it up my review pile!

  16. I also wish the author had spent more time focusing on her final living arrangements - it would have been nice to see more!

  17. I haven't been closely involved with a natural disaster, thankfully. Not much happens hear in the valley of AZ unless you count giant dust storms. This sounds like a powerful book. I will have to check it out. Beautiful review.

  18. Torn Away sounds really good, Brandi. And I think I'd enjoy Jersey quite a lot, because a character who can think about past actions and then move forward while taking that into account is one that is ready to evolve. And the fact that she's both strong and vulnerable is something I think I'd enjoy, too.
    I have been lucky enough to never be in a natural disaster. It scares me to just watch on TV how bad it can be, and I would be so afraid for my kids if something like a hurricane or an earthquake happened here.
    Great review :) Happy reading.

  19. Bookworm BrandeeJuly 23, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    This sounds like a very powerful read, Brandi. I don't think I've read a book about life following a natural disaster - particularly from a teen's POV. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll have to add it to my tbr. Great review.

  20. Oh wow Brandi! This read seems kind of intense! Glad you enjoyed it.
    Where I live, we have been surrounded by floods, but I live on a high point, so we had a lot of water, but weren't flooded personally.

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

  21. Never before and I am grateful for it. I hope it stays this way as well :)
    This sounds like a book which really grinds on the readers emotions, mostly because it is so involved in them as well. Seeing as my TBR is huge and I am trying to cut down on what I add, this is not going to be on it. But a brilliant review nonetheless ;)


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