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TORN WAY is an emotional stand-alone novel by award-winning author Jennifer Brown.
It came out this past Tuesday.
Happy Book Week, Jennifer!!!!
If you're looking for an emotional read that will likely make you cry, look no further than TORN AWAY by Jennifer Brown. The novel takes a look at the devastation a tornado can leave in its wake, as well as the lengths people will go to in order to survive and continue on. Brown was inspired to write the novel after she visited Joplin, Missouri as it recovered from a catastrophic tornado a couple of years ago. Even though the people were battle-weary, they still had hope. Reading the afternote added to the novel's impact and the plight of any person forced to suffer through such a tragedy. i can't tell you how many times I felt emotions just writing this review.
Jersey's story is worse than most. She was home alone the day the tornado took everything from her. She lost her house, but even worse, she lost her mother and sister. Now, she's alone in the universe. Her family, her entire world, was stripped away, and now nothing will ever be the same again. This isn't really a spoiler, since you know from the first chapter that something is about to go wrong, that Jersey is about to regret the last thing she refused to do for her little sister. The rest of Jersey's journey is spoilery; I recommend ignoring the book jacket or Goodreads summary. Experience the ups and downs alongside Jersey. I did, and I'm grateful not to have that extra information, because I was right there next to Jersey as events unfolded.
There is so much emotional baggage that comes with this novel. You just want to hug Jersey and turn back the hands of time, to tuck everyone up safe and sound. I have new admiration for anyone who has ever experienced the destruction of a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, etc. It's one reason I didn't want to stay in Florida; I don't want to experience even the threat of something like this year after year. It's really hard to talk about TORN AWAY without spoilers. There are characters you'll hate, and others you'll learn to care for. While the novel starts off with the trope of fighting with a loved one before a tragedy and forever regretting that moment, it morphs into a journey of healing and learning how to survive and go on, even when there's seemingly nothing left to live for.
Here's an excerpt from
that gets right to the heart of the action!
that gets right to the heart of the action!
BY JENNIFER BROWN
BY JENNIFER BROWN
The basement wasn’t a terrible place to kill time, especially since Ronnie had put a pool table, a couch, and a mini-fridge down there. Every so often he’d have some friends over and they’d all disappear downstairs, and we could hear pool balls cracking up against one another and smell the cigarette smoke as it drifted up through the living room carpet. He didn’t love us hanging out in his space, but tonight I had no choice.
I rummaged around on Ronnie’s worktable and found a flashlight, then clicked it on; it worked. Giving a quick glance to the one small window—it was still dark and windy—I flopped down on the couch and opened my book.
My phone buzzed and I pulled it out of my pocket.
“Hey, Dani, I guess it’s a good time to catch up on some reading for tomorrow’s quiz,” I said in my Miss Sopor impression.
“Are you downstairs?” Dani’s voice was worried, thin.
“Yep. Waste of time, but since the power’s out, I have nothing better to do, I guess.”
“My mom said a tornado touched down on M Highway. She said it’s headed right toward us. She wanted me to make sure you knew.”
M Highway was closer than I wanted it to be, and that news startled me a little, but it was still the country out there. It seemed like tornadoes were touching down on those country highways all the time.
“Yeah, I heard the sirens. I’m good,” I said, though I realized that my voice might have sounded a bit thin, too.
“Is Jane still at school?” Dani asked.
“I haven’t heard from her,” I said. “I can text her.”
“I already did. She didn’t answer.”
“They were probably playing and she didn’t hear her phone.” Plus, I added inside my head, the orchestra room is in the basement anyway. She’s fine. “I’ll try her. Kolby is standing outside right now.”
Dani made a noise into the phone. “I’m not surprised. He’s nuts. He’s not gonna be happy until he gets carried away in a tornado.”
“It’s not even raining out there.”
“Still, he’s crazy. One touched down on M Highway.”
“Call me if you talk to Jane?”
I hung up and sent Jane a quick text. The sirens stopped for a minute and I would have thought maybe the storm was passing, but it had gotten even darker outside, and then they started up again.
I chewed my lip, held my phone in my lap for a few seconds, then called Mom.
“Jersey?” she shouted into the phone. The noise around her was even louder. Emergency horns, police sirens, and the loud chatter and crying of little girls. “Jersey?”
“Dani’s mom said a tornado was on M Highway,” I said.
“I can’t hear her,” I heard my mom say, and another woman’s voice close by said something about more touchdowns. “Jersey?” Mom repeated.
“I’m here!” I shouted. “Hello! Can you hear me?”
“Jersey? I can’t hear you. If you can hear me, go to the basement, okay?” she yelled.
“I am,” I said, but I knew she couldn’t hear what I was saying, and fear really began to creep into my stomach. She sounded afraid. Mom never sounded afraid. Ever. She never wavered; she was always strong. Even when I fell off the monkey bars in second grade and landed straight on my neck and had to go in an ambulance to the hospital. Mom had simply sat next to me in the ambulance, talking in a low, steady voice, one that calmed me. “Mom? Hello? You there?”
“Everybody this way!” she shouted, her voice sounding farther away from the phone, like maybe she was holding it at her side and had forgotten that it was on. There was a bustling noise, and the crying and talking got louder and more jumbled and then was overtaken by a rumbling sound.
“Mom?” I said.
But she didn’t answer. I could hear her shouting, “Get your heads down! Get your heads down!” and lots of screaming and crying. I thought I might have heard glass breaking.
~From pages 16-17, US ebook edition
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