Torn Away
Torn Away

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Annotation: In the aftermath of a tornado that has devastated her hometown of Elizabeth, Missouri, sixteen-year-old Jersey Cameron struggles to overcome her grief as she is sent to live with her only surviving relatives.
Catalog Number: #108147
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 276 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-24554-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-90149-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-24554-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-90149-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2013021598
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Whenever something horrible happens, you hear people say they lost everything' . . . But they have no idea what it's really like to lose everything. Jersey, like many midwesterners, is jaded by frequent tornado warnings. But when a storm really does rip through her town, her home, and her family, it leaves in its wake an unimaginable hole in each of those areas of her life. As she picks up the pieces of her life and tries to mourn the death of her mother and little sister, she is confronted by another crisis when her stepfather forces her into the volatile home of her long-estranged father. Out of personal and public tragedy, Jersey struggles to find a path forward, a home, and a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This is a gut-wrenching and poignant look at the aftermath of natural disaster and the secrets that families keep, written with raw honesty and deep emotion.
Horn Book
When a tornado devastates her Missouri hometown, sixteen-year-old Jersey loses her house, her mother, and her half-sister. While Jersey is shuffled among relatives she's never met--some of them happier to see her than others--she reconciles unsavory family secrets while also processing her significant, immediate grief. This depiction of the emotional consequences of natural disasters is intense and affecting.
Kirkus Reviews
Jersey Cameron has lived her whole life in Elizabeth, Mo., where the weather is unpredictable, and complaining about it is a full-time job. When Jersey's mother and little sister perish in a tornado, Jersey finds herself rejected by her guilt-ridden, emotionally paralyzed stepfather. He sends her to live in a house full of hostile strangers comprising her alcoholic biological father, who left Jersey and her mother when Jersey was a baby; his boorish wife and her two spoiled daughters (the Cinderella connection won't be lost on readers); and Jersey's heartless grandparents. Jersey is immediately put to work washing everyone else's dishes and is made to sleep on a sofa on the porch (sleeping among the ashes must have been considered too obvious). After a particularly nasty fight with the evil stepsisters, Jersey runs away and finds herself with another set of strangers: her mother's estranged parents. Readers may find themselves wanting to throttle Jersey by the middle of the book; while Brown starts off doing a wonderful job depicting the grief and depression that comes with such a catastrophic loss, Jersey ends up sounding whiny. The novel's didacticism—Jersey continually reflects on how good she had it before the tornado, regretting sharp words she can't take back—also causes it to lose its edge. A lukewarm story about finding family and starting over. (Fiction. 12-16)
Publishers Weekly
When a tornado strikes Jersey-s hometown in Missouri, her house and neighborhood are destroyed, but her losses cut much deeper: her mother and five-year-old sister are among the many killed in the storm. Jersey counts on her stepfather to help her pick up the pieces, but a shell-shocked Donnie claims he can-t raise her, sending her to live with her biological father, an alcoholic who abandoned Jersey-s mother when Jersey was a baby. Jersey is horribly mistreated by his family, and after she runs away, she ends up with her last chance: her estranged maternal grandparents. Jersey was raised to hate them, but she begins to understand that her mother-s version of events may have omitted some crucial information. Brown (Thousand Words) gives readers a true sense of the horror wrought by the storm and the agony of its aftermath; her ability to create rich, complex characters is once again in evidence. While the cruelty of Jersey-s father-s family is somewhat over the top, Jersey-s feelings are achingly real and relatable. Ages 12-up. Agent: Cori Deyoe, 3 Seas Literary Agency. (May)

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up&12; Jersey's entire life falls apart in a matter of minutes: a tornado kills her mother and her half-sister Marin and destroys their house. Though Jersey's stepfather, Ronnie, survives, he's too shocked to think about parenting, and so the teen is dispatched to live with the extended paternal family she's never met. Her biological father abandoned her years ago and shows no sign of wanting to mend their relationship, and the rest of the family&12;her stepmother, stepsisters, and paternal grandparents&12;either ignore or belittle her. Jersey nourishes herself with sporadic cell phone conversations from friends but fears that the foundation her old life was built on is quickly disappearing. Brown depicts Jersey's reaction to a frightening, life-altering situation expertly, and the protagonist's voice is authentic. For instance, a moment where one member of the family extends a rare kindness by offering to take her for a haircut prompts Jersey to realize that from now on, every decision, whether getting a haircut or deciding to take driver's ed lessons, she's truly on her own&12;something that will resonate with readers. However, secondary characters are not as fleshed out. Because the book opens with the life-changing tornado, it's hard to get a true sense of her friends, and the new family members tend to be stock types (a brusque, sullen father; a cleavage-baring, party-loving stepmother). The book wraps up a little fast, considering how bleak Jersey's situation is throughout, but readers will be heartened to see glimpses of hope on the horizon. Overall, this is a wrenching story of the will to survive at any cost.&12; Mahnaz Dar , School Library Journal
Voice of Youth Advocates
Sixteen-year-old Jersey survived the tornado that hit Elizabeth, Missouri, alone in her basement under her stepfather Ronnie's pool table. Her mother, Chrissy, and five-year-old sister, Marin, were at dance class and were not as lucky. After several days, Ronnie appears. Their house and belongings are destroyed. The only saved relics are Marin's favorite purse and a ceramic cat with the number "6" on it, one of sixteen anonymous birthday gifts Jersey assumes were from her father, Clay, who abandoned her at an early age. It is a complete shock when Ronnie says he is too emotional to care for her and she must move to another city to live with Clay's extended family. They make it known that they do not want her but will take her as a family obligation. Jersey and her two teenage cousins clash immediately and Jersey is forced to leave. Instead of taking her back, Ronnie takes her to Chrissy's parents, who Chrissy said disowned her when she married Clay.In Torn Away, Brown, author of A Thousand Words (Little, Brown, 2013/VOYA June 2013), describes in realistic detail the physical and emotional wreckage of storm victims. Not only has Jersey lost her home, immediate family, and friends, but she is forced to live with people who do not want her as well as people she believes disowned her mother. Along with acclimating to new families, Jersey also learns that "truths" her mother told her may not have been so. Torn Away is vivid and emotional as Jersey comes to terms with her grief, new life, and new knowledge.Ed Goldberg.A great balance between natural and emotional disasters, Torn Away is a superb read. This quick read is heavy and will remain on the reader's mind for days, if not weeks, after completing the novel.á The world within the novel is so realistic that the reader will experience the pain of the characters. Jersey is a likable character who really connects with the reader. áWell written and captivating, this novel is fantastic and will draw in many readers. 5Q, 4P.Rachelle David, Teen Reviewer.
Word Count: 70,658
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 11.0 / quiz: 167458 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.4 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q65180
Lexile: HL820L

Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.


When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she's sent to live with relatives she hardly knows -- family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?

In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.


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