Torn Away, by Jennifer Brown
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Mom and Marin and I had fought so many times. That’s what happens when you’re family. We’d been ugly and called names. I’d stopped talking to Mom more times than I could count. I’d even told her I hated her.
But those weren’t the memories that assaulted me. The memories that came to me were worse–they were the ones where we were sweet, understanding, patient, kind. They were the ones that made my heart ache, because I’d never have the chance to build another.
In some ways, those were the cruelest memories of all.
If I were to describe Torn Away in a gif, it would be this one:
This book rips your heart out. Then it stomps on it, scrapes it up with a shovel and throws it in the fire.
I live in Michigan. There aren’t many tornados or earthquakes, and hurricanes are virtually nonexistent. Mostly, it’s just a shitload of snow. I don’t have to worry so much about my home being ripped apart like others do, over in areas like Florida, Japan, and the Philippines–but I am astraphobic. I used to really enjoy stormy weather, and even today, I love the rain, but ever since I was around fifteen, I’ve been deathly afraid of thunderstorms. My house almost got struck by lightning a few years back, and ever since I’m suffocating in fear the moment I hear the rumble of thunder. The point is, this book opened up a very, very sensitive nerve and left me almost crying. Reading Jersey’s story, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if a natural disaster struck our house, what I would do if I lost my family. It’s a sharp reminder of how important family is, how you never value what you have until it’s gone.
These characters are so realistic; it is probably the most realistic portration of a teenager that I’ve ever read. I could see Jersey so vividly next to me, could feel and understand her grief so well, and later, her fury. She loses her home, her mother and her sister in the tornado. Then her step-father dumps her with her father’s family, who all loathe her and want nothing to do with her. Her half-sisters treat her like shit, and her father doesn’t even consider her to be his child.
“So why, then?” I croaked. “If what you say is true, if you tried so hard to stay connected with me, why don’t you want me here now?”
“Because I don’t need no paternity test to tell me whether or not you belong to me. At this point, I already know you don’t. You were Christine’s from day one. You ain’t my kid. You’re a stranger. And you’re messin’ with my real family.”
Honestly, I don’t know how you can read this book and not want to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and never come out again. I felt more sadness from this book than I ever did in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s stuffed full of grief, and it reminded me to keep my family close, because you never know what the future holds.