This is part of the book blog tour for Torn Away by Jennifer Brown,
organized by Shane at Itching for Books.
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.
Jersey thought things would always stay the same in her life. She’d go to school every day, chat with a few friends, watch TV after school and do the laundry while her mother took her younger sister to dance class. But when a tornado hit her town, she lost not just her home, but her family. With her mother and sister gone, her only option was to go and live with family relatives whom she had never met before. Could she overcome grief and adapt to her new reality?
Jersey was a character I could totally relate to. She wasn’t the kindest person on Earth but she was usually good to those who were around her. She might sometimes sound like a mean person but she often meant no harm to anybody. Her personality was realistic and perhaps because of that, she felt more like a friend to me than a fictional character. The way she mourned was sad and heartbreaking and I was just glad that she got to know her true family in the end.
When I first read the synopsis, I thought this would be a tear-jerker for me, and for the most part, the story was tragic, depressing and somber. I wouldn’t have guessed the circumstances that Jersey had to go through and I was definitely grateful that this wasn’t something that happened to me in my life.
I guess we all had our own way to deal with hardship and grief. There wasn’t one particularly perfect way and sometimes, following logical reasons might not exactly help to bring us comfort. In the story, when Jersey’s mom and sister were gone, her stepfather chose to mourn alone and push Jersey away. I wouldn’t judge his decision or call him cruel but it was definitely among the saddest moments for me to watch Jersey struggle as she went through her darkest hours of helplessness.
After reading the book, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for all that I owned. I felt grateful for the people that I got to know in my life and I knew I could do something more for my relationship with my parents. Who would have thought I’d want to be a better daughter after reading a story?
Excerpt from Torn Away
By Jennifer Brown
from Chapter Ten
“You okay?” the desk clerk asked, leaning over the counter to peer at me. She twisted her watch around on her wrist anxiously.
I nodded. “Fine.” A lie. I got up and started to walk toward the door.
“It’s real terrible what happened over there in Elizabeth,” she said.
“I’m real sorry about it.”
“Thanks.” I hurried out of the office as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to hear anyone else tell me they were sorry. What did I’m sorry mean, exactly, when someone had died? Wouldn’t it be much more accurate to say I’m grateful when someone close to you was hit by tragedy? I’m grateful, as in, I’m grateful that this didn’t happen to me. At least that would be honest.
I stood outside and looked up at the sky. The day was sunny and warm again, and here, twenty miles away from home, it almost seemed like a normal day. Except on a normal day I would be in chem class right now, excited about theater club practice and the lighting cues I still had to learn. On a normal day I would be seeing Mom tonight, would be telling Marin that I was too busy, too busy, always too busy.
I gazed down the line of motel room doors. Behind one of those, Ronnie was drowning in his own grief. Behind one of them, he was alone and I was alone, only feet apart, unable to talk about the things we needed to say.
I couldn’t go in there. Not yet.
Instead, I turned and walked down the sidewalk, Ronnie’s credit card in my pocket.
I wandered past a strip mall, which was filled with real estate offices and computer repair shops and dry cleaners, and headed toward a big chain pharmacy a short distance away. My clothes and shoes felt coarse and gross against my skin. I gazed at all the perfect buildings, the perfect people. Why had they been spared?
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About the Author
- One paperback copy of Torn Away by Jennifer Brown (US only)