Torn Away

Torn Away

Torn Away

by Jennifer Brown

Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: May 6th, 2014
by Little, Brown 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.


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’d neverβ€” not onceβ€” discussed what to do after.

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2014, and I am happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. It’s completely beautiful and utterly emotion and thought-provoking, and I found myself absolutely absorbed into Jersey’s powerful story.

17-year-old Jersey has lived her whole life in the Midwestern town of Elizabeth, Missouri. Being a Midwest girl, she thinks she knows everything there is to know about tornadoes. But she’s wrong. When her town is suddenly destroyed by a horrible tornado, Jersey is unprepared for it’s aftermath.

Losing her mother and younger sister Marin to the horrible storm, Jersey is devastated by grief. And she begins to realize that maybe there are some things- like the power of family and love – that are even too big for even a tornado to destroy.

What the news crews couldn’t show was the real damage Elizabeth’s monster tornado had left behind. How do you record the wreckage left in someone’s heart?


Jersey is a pheonominal protagonist. You can feel her pain, her emotions, her grief, and it’s all so wonderful. She’s someone you can’t help but feel sorry for. Every emotion Jersey feels – the good, the bad, and the ugly – you as a reader feel too.

However, I feel that some of the characters – her drunk father, her cousins, her aunt – were almost too mean to be true. It felt almost a bit unreal to me. Jersey is shipped off – after the tornado – to live with her abusive, drunk father who abandoned her when she was young. There, she’s treated absolutely horribly by her “family.” In a way, there were times when I felt that her treatment was just so mean that it was almost too unreal.

All in all, Torn Away is such a powerful and heartbreaking story and I’d highly recommend it. This novel is bound to make you realize how much you truly have in life and how thankful you should be. It reminds you that life is short, and is not something to take lightly.

I’m wondering if it’s even possible to lose “everything” or if you just have to keep redefining what “everything” is.


56 thoughts on “Torn Away

    1. Aww…thank you Jeann! <3 It is absolutely heart-breaking. Gah - I get sad just thinking about it! I hope you end up deciding to give it a try because it is absolutely wonderful.

  1. Oh god yes I loved this book so much! Definitely an emotional rollercoaster. I felt so damn sorry for Jersey πŸ™

    Brilliant review! <33

  2. I want to read this so, so bad because = Jennifer Brown. I loooved Hate List, and by “love” I mean totally emotionally scarred. I don’t know anything about this tornado, but it looks freaky. And sad. And scary. πŸ™ I want to try this book though and I’m SO GLAD you liked it! I probably will, too. πŸ˜‰

    Oh and I just finished Prisoner of Night and Fog. XD Preeetty impressive, actually, and gah, could Hitler be any creepier? (Don’t answer that.)

    1. I haven’t read Hate List yet, but if you say it’s that good, than I trust you! Although I will blame you for any emotional scarring left behind… πŸ˜‰

      It’s actually inspired by events of a real tornado that happened a few years ago, and it’s absolutely heart-breaking! Thank you Cait! I hope you enjoy it too! πŸ˜‰

      YEAH! Glad you enjoyed it! <3 I read your review and absolutely agree with everything you mentioned. I'm really interested in seeing where the series goes from here, because I have a feeling it's about to really start getting crazy!

  3. It’s so interesting to have a book like that, mainly when you can really understand the main character and the environment. I saw this one around but I don’t remember the reviews. I’m glad you liked it so much though. Lovely review.

  4. Beautiful review Zoe, I hope what Jersey goes through never, EVER happens to you. The author seems to have written a pretty realistic character, I’ve read a few reviews on this book and they all say how wonderful and relatable Jersey is. I really, really want to read this book, but I think I need to mentally prepare myself for the heartache. Thank you for sharing your wonderful review Zoe, I’m adding this to the TBR list asap! πŸ˜€

    1. Aww…thank you so much Joy! <3 You're so sweet! Right back at you!
      She is SUCH a relatable character, which makes everything so much more heart-breaking and real.
      Yeah! Glad you're intrigued Joy! Hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did! πŸ˜€

  5. I haven’t read anything by Brown yet, but I plan to begin with this one. While I’m not quite in the mood for an emotional roller coaster yet, I definitely want to pick this one up. So glad to see you enjoyed it; wonderful review, Zoe!

    1. This is my first Brown book as well! Definitely save this for when you’re in the mood for something emotional – you’ll definitely get more out of it than if you weren’t in the mood. Thank you! <3

  6. Superb review Zoe!! This book sounds like it has so much more depth than I first thought. Jersey sounds like an amazing leading lady. I agree with you, in that, some situations when the characters are just downright nasty it can feel unrealistic or overdone. I look forward to taking a ride on this emotional roller coaster!

    1. Thank you! It has a TON of depth, and Jersey is certainly a relatable character. Phew! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way! It almost felt like Jennifer was trying … a bit too hard maybe? Besides that, though, it was absolutely wonderful, and I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did! <3

  7. Oh gosh Zoe, your review has made me really emotional. I can’t imagine how terrifying a twister must be, but I can imagine losing your family in our deadly bushfires during summer or floods must be out here. Beautiful review, It sounds like you’ve captured it perfectly. If I’m getting teary over your review, this’ll be a definite must read.

    1. Aww…thanks Kelly! <3 We don't have bushfires or floods here in the US, but that certainly must be horrible! Thank you! It's definitely a wonderful read, and I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did! <3

  8. Amazing review Zoe! It was like I can feel your emotions through your words and I got emotional too just by reading your review. I am definitely checking this one out. Again, amazing review. Got teary-eyed there. πŸ™‚

  9. That GIF! Omigosh, that’s perfect. Plus, i love Jersey’s name! I’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately and I might have to check it out. And… the cover!

    1. Thanks Samantha!
      She does have an awesome name, right? πŸ˜‰ And yes! Such a simple, yet powerful cover. <3
      Glad to hear you're intrigued! πŸ˜€

  10. Great choice of quotes! I want to read this one so much but I’m kind of afraid because I grew up around tornadoes (Midwest for me, too!) , we almost lived in the basement :/ Glad to hear it’s easy to relate to and realistic though. Sign me up for this one! πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you Alise! <3 I completely get where you're coming from. It was a bit close to home for me as well, but in the end I was really glad I read it. I'm glad you're at least willing to give it a try though! πŸ˜‰

  11. I’ve read a few reviews for this book and so far all of them have been positive, I’m glad it is the same for you too, that the events that haplened is indeed realistic, especially since you also luved in the midwest. I especially The main protagonist sounds so real and although there are some characters who were unrealistic, I’m glad they didn’t totally hinder this book’s beauty. Amazing review, Zoe. When I’m up for something gut-wrenching and realistic, I will definitely give this a shot.

    1. Thanks Amir! The main character was pheonominal, and, despite the slightly underdeveloped “villains,” the characters in general were just all kinds of awesome. YEAH! Hope you enjoy it!

  12. I don’t do well with contemporaries that don’t have romance, but I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews for this and I’m in some need for an emotional rollercoaster. Tornadoes are scary. Luckily I’ve never experienced one in my life yet! Awesome review, Zoe!

    1. There’s a bit of romance, but it’s hardly present. Even if you like your contemporaries with romance, this is definitely still worth a try because everything is absolutely wonderful. I hope you never experience a tornado Aimee. Thank you!

  13. Sigh, it is so true. All so so true. The heroine was such a relatable character, that it does make you feel like this situation can happen to anyone, even to you, me, and everybody else here. Makes you want to live your life even more to the fullest πŸ™

    “Jersey is devastated by grief. And she begins to realize that maybe there are some things- like the power of family and love – that are even too big for even a tornado to destroy.”

    This was such a beautiful quote, Zoe <3 Thank you so much for saying that. Family and love really are great forces to reckon with, and it makes me thankful that I am full of these two. If ever something like this comes to me (knock on wood, hopefully not!), I hope these two will give me the strength to carry on just like Jersey.

    1. Thank you Faye! Exactly…the story was so much more enjoyable and emotion-provoking because of that.

      Aw…thanks! <3 They certainly are. I hope something like this never happens to you Faye!

  14. A beautiful review for a beautiful book! Torn Away has been on my TBR ever since I saw it around on Goodreads, and the reviews on it are nothing but praise. I live relatable and concert characters, and emotional rollercoasters coupled with strong and beautiful writing? I’m going to the book store. RIGHT. NOW.

    1. Aww…thank you Maddy! *blushes* If those sound up your alley, absolutely get a copy ASAP because you’re in for a treat! <3

  15. Oh…this sounds like a wonderful story. I live in an area where siren’s are constantly going off at this time of year and I’ve been through several hurricanes that spawned lot’s of tornados. I’ve been lucky but know many people that weren’t so lucky. Like you I think I would be able to connect to this story in a “real life” way. Will definitely add this to my read list. Thanks for sharing your great review!

    1. Ginny…thank you so much for sharing your story. Tornadoes and hurricanes are such horrifying events, and they really do make you realize everything you have in life. It certainly sounds like you’d definitely be able to connect to Jersey easily. Thank you for the lovely comment! <3

  16. Great review! I’ve never seen a tornado in real life and I think i am happy for that, they can cause so much destruction. I don’t like it when in books some people are depicted as really mean, it has to stay realistic. I do like how you describe the main character as normal, sometimes it’s really refreshing to read about a character that isn’t special or stands out.

    1. I hope you never do see one Lola! The MC is definitely “normal” and thus more relatable, and I absolutely agree – it’s definitely refreshing to read about someone who is more relatable. The characters whom are depicted as mean are realistic, but there were just some points when I almost felt they were…too mean, you know?

  17. I love serouis contemporaries like this and the fact that the MC is very relatable makes me want tp pick it up even more, although this one does seem like a rollercoaster of a book and i feel like i’m going to be crying nonstop if i pick this one up!
    Great review!

    1. I love serious books, so this one was definitely a treat for me, and I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did Lily if you decide to read it. The main character is absolutely pheonominal. It’s great to see a protagonist who is so “normal” and easy to relate to. It’s certainly an extraordinarily sad book (I cried nonstop!), but it’s absolutely worth it.

      Thank you!

  18. Awwwww, I’m glad that you loved this as well Zoe πŸ˜€ It was the kind of book that will definitely make you treasure the moment with your family. I agree with how the realness of it was kinda mean. I felt everything Jersey felt, so what they did was just… *sigh*

    I’m glad that you loved this! The gifs, the picture, the quotes. These are wonderful πŸ˜€

    1. Thank you Jules! <3 Absolutely! When I finished all I wanted to do was spend some time with my family because it was so. Darn. Sad. I felt that her father's family was realistic, but at times they just felt...a little over the top mean, you know?

      THANK YOU! That's so sweet of you! <3

    1. I know! It’s so sad! It makes me just want to spend time with my family. Even if it emotionally destroys you (like it did me!), it’s absolutely worth it! <3

  19. I think I’d really enjoy Jersey’s character, and the story sounds good too! Maybe I’ll tackle this one later this summer when I’m reading non-review titles.

    On a side note, that emotional roller coaster screen caption totally made me laugh because yesterday I had a brain fart & couldn’t remember that term, so I made these crazy hand motions instead, and # 1 laughed at me. LOL FAIL

    1. Jersey is such a great character! Yeah! Glad to hear you’re considering it Carmel! πŸ˜€

      Haha…OMG! LOL! πŸ˜‰

  20. Brilliant review! This is currently sitting on my bookshelf and now I am quite looking forward to finally finding the time to get to it. I really love the sound of Jersey but understand what you mean about the other characters being ‘too mean’. I have that a lot in books where they try to give the character a broken home or a bad family, they come off as more caricatures of bad people than actual real people.

    1. Thank you! Jersey is such an amazing character, and I hope you enjoy her as much as I did. πŸ˜€ Yes, I agree. It was almost like Jennifer Brown was trying too hard to show us that Jersey’s step-family was so evil, and it got to a point where I found it almost unbelievable.

  21. What a lovely review, Zoe! I find that all Jennifer Brown’s novels have an innate sense of power, and that makes her books a favourite of mine. I loved this book, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from in terms of Jersey’s step-family. I think that Ms. Brown was painting us a picture in black and white in that aspect, when the rest of the story was in shades of gray…an interesting concept πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you Melissa! This is my first Jennifer Brown novel, but from what I can tell, absolutely. She seems to have a way of conquering hard or difficult topics in her writing. Hm…I never thought of it that way, but, yes, in a sense, absolutely! πŸ˜€

  22. Great review! I’m glad to hear that you really liked this one. I like realistic books; they can pack a punch, but they are definitely worth reading. And I’m glad to hear the MC had good characterization.


  23. I can imagine myself crying while reading this book. Just from the title, it already gives that vibe. I’ve experienced being in the midst of a natural disaster, but I couldn’t imagine what Jersey must’ve gone through. If an author can make you feel the protagonist’s pains, it just means she’s amazing! I like books like this πŸ™‚ Fantastic review, Zoe!

    1. You’re not alone Dre! πŸ˜€ I can’t imagine either…it must have been terrible! I agree – it’s definitely a compliment to her work to have readers crying over her characters like that! πŸ˜‰ Thank you!

  24. Your review is swaying me to the darkside. And by the darkside, I mean Jennifer Brown books. I’m really not her biggest fan and have actually really disliked the past two books I’ve read of hers, but this just sounds really good and now I’m reconsidering my Jen Brown strike πŸ˜›

    1. YES – ALLIE! COME TO THE DARK SIDE WITH ME! πŸ˜‰ I haven’t read any other book by Jennifer Brown, so I’m not sure how this compares, but I hope you enjoy it regardless if you decide to read it!

  25. I love this author so much and yes she’s brilliant with her characters. Jersey just came off as so sympathetic and real to me! I get what you mean about the to-mean to be true but I have actually know a girl with a family close to what she went through at her dad’s house so I think that made it real for me. I’m glad you enjoyed it, hun!

    1. I haven’t read any other books by Brown, but this one was just so darn good I’m going to have to give her other books a try! πŸ˜‰ I can definitely see how it might appear realistic to some readers, just not for me as I haven’t experienced a scenario like that.

      Thanks Giselle! I’m glad you did as well! πŸ™‚

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