Friday, May 9, 2014

Blog tour: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown + excerpt & review

I said it yesterday and I'll say it again today: what a week for books! Today's tour is for Torn Away hosted by IFB Tours. We have an excerpt of our choosing and a review. Enjoy!

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
YA contemporary 
Hardcover/eBook, 288 pages
Release date: May 6th 2014
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Buy: Amazon

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.


Growing up, we were taught over and over again what steps to take in case of an approaching tornado. Listen for sirens, go to your basement or cellar, or a closet in the center of your house, duck and cover, wait it out. We had drills twice a year, every year, in school. We talked about it in class. We talked about it at home. The newscasters reminded us. We went to the basement. We practiced, practiced, practiced.

But we never--not once--discussed what to do after.

I think we never thought there would be an after like this one.

I was literally blown away by Jennifer Brown's latest novel, Torn Away. Deeply moving, highly emotional and beautifully written, this is one unforgettable novel. Jersey Cameron takes the things she has in life for granted, her mother, her younger sister, Marin, her home. Not until a powerful tornado rips everything away from her does she realize the treasures she had. The only other surviving member of her small family, she soon learns her stepfather survived but is an emotional wreck. He doesn't want her and ships her off to her real father's house. 

If she thought experiencing a cyclone was hell, meeting her father and his cast of horrible low-lifes makes Jersey appreciate the true family she had but didn't seem to appreciate. Crying out for help to her closest friend and her stepfather Ronnie, again, finally brings the broken-down man back into her life. But only briefly. Once again she is whisked off to more family, her mother's parents, where Jersey comes face to face with the half-truths and lies she was raised to believe as truth and the possibility that she may begin to have hope in her life, and true unconditional love.

Wow, the thing about reading Torn Away is that beside it's quick pace, is that the writing is simple and easy to read. And that's where I found out I was wrong. The words may seem that way but as a whole this novel is gut wrenching. I ran the gamut of emotions from anger at Jersey for being mean to Marin to utter horror as a fierce tornado rips everything away from a town and its people. Wait, I'm not done yet. I totally hated Jersey's biological father and his horrid clan, wanted to smack Rennie off the side of his head, and shake Jersey so she could see what she really had in her grandparents and the security of a loving home which they so easily opened up and offered her. 

Thank you, Ms. Brown, for making me an instant fan and for writing Torn Away. This is one incredible gem of a novel and a master class for writers. I loved it! I may have been reduced to a simpering mess by Jersey's words and experiences, by her gum wrapper memories of a little sister she did love, and by a dance with a grandmother who would move to another town to make her granddaughter's life easier. I can't forget to mention how much I loved the scenes between Jersey and her card-playing grandfather. This is the beauty of a realistic portrayal between a man and kid (and I know others can easily relate). For hours I was captivated by your prose, your characters, their world and their lives. And I have a feeling they will live inside of me for a long time to come.

Rating: 5

Cover comment:
I've seen this model and this pose on other covers so there wasn't much of an impact here. But I will say, it does work except I would've liked to have seen a bruise or cut on the model's face. Her clean-cut, unblemished skin gives the art a 'perfect' feel and it looks like she has not only blush but eye shadow. And if you've read the book, we know what happens to Jersey's hair.

Book source:

Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer's weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist. 

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

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