Feature Book of the Week : Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Monday, August 31, 2015


Jennifer Brown

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.

Author Post

Sometimes I like to say that being a writer isn’t about “coming up with story ideas” as much as it is paying attention to the ideas that are already all around you. Story ideas are in the news, they’re hidden in a Facebook post or frozen inside an Instagram photo. They’re in overheard conversations. They’re in weird and unpredictable situations. They’re in epic fails and epic triumphs. They’re in your history. Sometimes they’re just in your heart.

Torn Away was one of those in-my-heart stories.

Some books do take a little bit of coaxing to come out, blinking and timid, into the real world. You might find yourself trying to write to an expectation, or to an obligation, or to a proposal that felt a lot more seamless in synopsis than in actual book. In those cases, it really can feel like you’re “coming up with ideas.”

But other books just seem to be there, waiting at the tips of your fingers, pushing and nudging to be let out. They’re filled with characters who talk to you in your quiet moments. They’re the ones that seem to magically come together. They’re the ones whose characters seem to have the perfect voices for what you have to say.

Torn Away wasn’t just a tornado book for me. I mean, it was, and the tornado was a huge part of what happened to Jersey. Tornadoes are scary and existent in our area, and I chose a tornado because the “what if” of their devastation is a real and present worry in our lives. But the story could have as easily been about an earthquake or a car accident or a building collapse or a cancer or…any sort of tragedy, large or small. It was Jersey that was important to me.

Jersey was stripped of everything she loved, everything central to her, everything that made her feel safe and secure. She was forced to face a new life, alone, and tap into reserves of strength she didn’t even know she had. She had to be not just resilient, but capital-R Resilient. Actually, all caps RESILIENT.

Sometimes, and at any time, we can all find ourselves tapping into that all caps RESILIENCE inside of us. We don’t need to experience loss at the same level that Jersey did to lose everything—or even just what feels like everything—important, loved, and safe in our lives. Jersey might look at our problems and think, Is that it? But more likely, she would put her hand on our backs and say, You’ve got this.

Because you do, and if there was one thing I wanted Jersey’s story to say to you, it’s just that. Regardless of what your tornado looks like, you’ve all caps GOT THIS. I know this, because the story was in my heart from the very beginning.

About the Author

Jennifer Brown is the author of acclaimed young adult novels, Hate List, Bitter End, Perfect EscapeThousand Words, and Torn Away. Her debut novel, Hate List, received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Bitter End received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.
Jennifer's debut middle grade novel, Life on Mars, was released in 2014, and her second middle grade novel, How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel will be released in summer 2015. 

Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

12 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read this book, because it sounds very interesting with the situation that Jersey has to face.-St. Gabriel the Archangel

Anonymous said...

this book sounds very interesting when Jersey finds herself in a difficult situation because of a tornado.-St. Gabriel the Archangel

Kelly Collins -hixon middle said...

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown was by far my favorite book battle book I've read so far my favorite part is when Jersey's Aunt takes her to get their hair done and when Jersey gets Marin's dream cat and names it E.C. Swing after the dance Marin wanted Jersey to learn.

Unknown said...

Hazelwood Central Book Battle Club

We are excited to read this book. Living in an area that has a lot of tornadoes we think we are going to be able to make a lot of personal connections.

-Hazelwood Central Book Battle Club

Quentin said...

I would read this book because it sounds like a thriller with excitement and suspense. It sounds like the book I am reading, The Lovely Bones, because the character in that story has to be strong watching her parents cry and get upset while she is in heaven, just like Jersey has to be strong. ~Quentin, Lift for Life Academy

Amarion said...

Normally, I do not like to read this genre. I like that Jersey is resilient, so I could probably read this book. The book description makes me think of a movie with Samuel Jackson where he had to be resilient. ~Amarion. Lift for Life Academy

Kameron said...

I think this book sounds very interesting because of its plot of a girl having to go live with relatives she didn't know, who she thinks of as strangers because of the tornado. ~Kameron, Lift for Life Academy

Shamia said...

I think this book will be a tragic, yet awesome page turner. I haven't read a single page yet, but from prior knowledge, I know it will have a lot of drama. I wonder what type of family she will live with. ~Shamia, Lift for Life Academy

Shannon Steimel said...

I think this book will be very popular with our students. A lot of our students love Hate List, so I think they will be excited to read another great book from Jennifer Brown. Realistic fiction is one of the most popular genres at our school. ~ Mrs. Shannon Steimel, Librarian, Lift for Life Academy

Anonymous said...

I thought that Torn Away was pretty good. It was predictable that Marin and Jersey's mother were going to die, but after that I thought that the story line was very unique. Jersey's character was very realistic. She had so many emotions throughout the book and the way it was written made me feel those emotions as well.

Anonymous said...

From Cross Keys Middle School Says,
Torn Away by Jennifer Brown is an amazing realistic fiction that brings out the possibility of tragedy. She not only shows how hard it is to cope with a tragedy, but also how hard it is to keep up hope and faith for good after a tragedy. This book will make you laugh , smile , cry , and cheer on the characters while they go through a very testing and tough time.

Anonymous said...

Cross Keys Middle School,

Jennifer Brown is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are so realistic and emotional! I've read Hate List, Perfect Escape, and other books by her, but Torn Away is one of my absolute favorites!

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