Friday, May 2, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

{Release date: May/2014}

On a typical day after school Jersey Cameron is bored by her mother's requests and her little sister Marin's attention.  She just wants a little quiet time to zone out and watch television. When Marin and her mother head off to dance and Jersey, reluctantly, begins to make dinner a storm hits and it brings a large tornado swooping through town.  Jersey has enough time to get down to the basement with her cell phone and a book but she is left with fear about her family.  Her stepfather is maybe at work or possibly with friends and her mom and Marin still at dance.  She makes one fleeting phone call to her mother and her mother simply tells her to take cover.

It's days before she is reunited with any part of her family as she works to make sense of the devastation left behind in the wake of the tornado.  Very accurately described with true emotion Jersey's story is one I'd never thought of; what happens to children abandoned after a natural disaster here?  Her stepfather, deeply depressed with grief, is not interested in raising her.  Her biological paternal grandparents agree to take her in but their house is filled with hatred, drunkenness, and bitter feelings.  Jersey's only known the security of her mother's love and even with the adjustment of cute little Marin her life was calm.   

Eventually she ends up with her mom's parents, estranged after a fight with her mom years ago, Jersey does not want to share her life with them. Her mom left home as a teenager with her dad, a drunk, and her parents told her if she was going to stay with him, to not come back.  And she didn't reconcile with them even after she kicked out the drunk and it was just her and her baby, Jersey, alone.  Grudges.  Lies.  Anger.  Lucky for Jersey she finds a way to see that even though her mother rejected them she can begin again with her grandparents.  Through this relationship she can begin to heal.

I enjoyed this story.  I've never actually been through a tornado experience but I have had to wait it out in the basement many times.  The tornado is a terrifying monster and one that will shape the rest of Jersey's life as well as many other residents of her small Midwest town just as a tornado does in real life.  Vilonia, Arkansas and Moore, Oklahoma residents can attest to that.

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