Torn Away is one of those books that I liked despite their small faults and them being a little bit unrealistic. The tragic tale of Jersey Cameron touched me deeply.
Jersey is such a likable character, maybe because she is so normal. She is neither a social outcast nor the queen bee but something in between. She grows up in one of those patchwork families: Her dad left them when she was just a Baby, her Mom remarried a few years later and now Jersey is stuck with a new stepfather and a very young half-sister she loves and begrudges for the attention of her parents at the same time. Jersey lives a normal teenager life with a not so perfect family, not so perfect grades in school and maybe a few extra pounds around the middle when disaster comes in form of a tornado.
I really loved how Jennifer Brown composed Jersey’s character and how she pulls you into the story with her writing. Jersey’s emotions, her horror in the light of the tornado, her grief about losing her mother and little sister, her trauma in being sent away from everything and everyone known and having to live with people her mother hated … Every one of her emotions is so realistic and written in such a way that draws you into the story. This book is about losing everything and still finding a reason to live. It’s about not giving up and about finding an inner strength you didn’t know you had.
My only complaint is that the plot takes a somewhat unrealistic turn after the tornado. As if her mother and little sister dying and her house being blown away wouldn’t have been enough tragedy, Jersey is being carted off to stay with her white trash dad (Clay) and his awful family: The cold and abrasive grandparents, her aunt the birthing machine without a husband, her slutty and stupid stepmother, her alcoholic sad dog of a father and his two mean daughters. And all those biased, cartoonish, one-dimensional characters are paired up with the tragedy in the aftermath of the tornado. It was simply too much drama in my opinion.
Still, this is an engaging and very emotional read that benefits immensely from a realistically portrayed main character. I can highly recommend it for everybody who looks for a psychologically fleshed-out young adult book with a happy end.