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.
My first and most consistent thought throughout reading this novel was that this plot was so unique from anything I had ever read before. I know there are stories out there about tornado victims and survivors, but I don't know of any YA ones, and I had never picked a book up about this topic before now. I loved it, because it let me see things from a perspective I was never able to see from until reading this book.
Torn Away was about Jersey's experience surviving the tornado and everything that she lost because of it - but it is also about what makes a family, and what it really means to lose everything. My favorite quote from the book pertains to what it means to lose everything:
"I'm wondering if it's even possible to lose 'everything,' or if you just have to keep redefining what 'everything' is."
This quote, in a way, expresses everything that this book is about. It is about rediscovering the important things in life, and figuring out what your "everything" really is.
Something else about this book that I felt should be known by those considering reading it is that this book really has no romance. This isn't a book about love in the sense of the "boyfriend and girlfriend" kind of relationships. This book is deeply focused on the bonds of family love, and natural disasters, and what it means to be human when everything physical that you use to define humanity is suddenly ripped away.
I also have to state that, even though this is a bit unrelated to what I have been talking about so far, this book cover and title are so fitting for the book, and I think the cover picture and artwork is stunning.
Now that we have that comment out of the way, I will wrap this up.
Basically, I loved this book very much. The writing style was classic Jennifer Brown, and I quite enjoyed that. Brown typically writes contemporary stories about very serious subjects, and she does it so well. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in it, and even those who are unsure of their interest...it is definitely worth a read.
Just a few more comments before you go. I did end up giving this a 4 stars, so you may be wondering why I didn't give it a full 5 stars since I loved it so much. The only reasons I have for not giving it 5 stars is because I have liked some of Brown's other stories a little bit better, just for little reasons here and there. The main character was a little bit less likable, but she was in no way intolerable. In fact, I felt her so much in this story. Other than a few little nit-picky things like that, it was a fantastic book, so pick it up if you get the chance!
In honor of our main character, Jersey, I give this book 4 little porcelain kittens:
Disclaimer: This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review by the Publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, through Netgalley. These opinions are completely my own, and are completely honest.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
(most information is from Goodreads page)
You can purchase this book almost anywhere that books are sold.
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