Friday, December 12, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is another of my fave authors. She wrote Hate List and Thousand Words, both reviewed on this blog. Torn Away is another winner from her. YA authors frequently surprise me with the subjects they write about, and Torn Away surprised me multiple times.

Her junior year is almost over when a massive and deadly tornado destroys much of what Jersey knows. Her sister and mother are killed, her stepfather goes missing, and as she waits under the pool table in the basement of her no-longer-standing house, she contemplates what in the world she will do to live again. Wickedly traumatized by surviving the brutal storm, she does what others around her are doing and begins her own searches. Days later (that actually seem like weeks through Brown's effective and "time-stopped" writing), her stepfather returns to the house; Jersey thinks she is somehow lucky he is alive until she realizes that he refuses to care for her, sending her to her long-disappeared and relentlessly-cruel father. Life seems unlivable; here again Brown brings a piercing clarity to her writing, to the storyline, and to a new-to-me world of the aftermath of tornados and living in Tornado Alley. As is usually the case with Brown's books, there is a glimmer of hope but it comes with great effort on several character's parts, accompanied by pain-filled costs. I had two questions inside when I reached the end of the story: When do we know what we have to let go of is worth letting go of? What do we need to have the strength to indeed let go?

This is a powerful tale to investigate. I would love to know how it reads for those who have survived such trial-filled experiences. 

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