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.
First sentence: “Marin wanted to teach me the East Coast Swing. “
Oh, Torn Away, I wish I was swept away with emotions, but alas, that wasn’t the case.
Torn Away tells a story about Jersey Cameron, who loses everything she’s ever loved—her mother, her sister, her house, comfort, security—to a tornado that destroyed her town. It is essentially broken down into three parts—when the tornado occurs, when Jersey is sent to her biological father’s house (where everybody hates her), and when Jersery is sent to live with her maternal grandparents who have not spoken to Jersey or her mother for the past 16 years.
Am I coldhearted that I didn’t feel particularly sad for Jersey when tragedy struck her family? I just felt disconnected and indifferent. Here is this horrible thing that happened, and that’s it. I didn’t particularly care for Jersey since I didn’t connect with her on an emotional level. If you were to ask me what stood out about Jersey (besides the things that happened to her) a week from now, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything. She’s quite a forgettable character; there’s nothing about her that makes her standout—not her interests or her personality. She was just normal. She did and expressed her emotions in a way that was understandable. I wanted to feel her grief, her anger, her every emotion, but the lack of emotional connection to her character formed a barrier I couldn’t get past.
I never felt rooted in the story, nor did I feel like I understood the characters. The characters didn’t have any depth that made me understand them. Everything I knew about them was on a surface level. What do I know about her father? Besides the fact he’s a ridiculous and horrible person? Nothing. And what about her maternal grandmother? Uhhhh, I can’t say too much about her. It doesn’t help that the book is broken down into parts, and in them, I feel like I’m watching them behind a glass, never close enough to feel the emotions, the loss, the fear.
Torn Away would’ve been a book I loved, if I connected with the characters. Unfortunately, I did not. The book was like a case study to me. It was creating awareness for what can happen in the case of a natural disaster, and what can happen to those people who are suddenly without a home or a family, instead of connecting emotionally with the characters and what is happening.
Ashleigh’s boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he’ll forget about her while he’s away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she text him a picture of herself — sans swimsuit — to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits “send.”
But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone — until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he’s the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh’s photo — and didn’t look.
Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn’t always tell the whole story.
First sentence: “The community service I’d been court ordered to complete was held in one of the downstairs classrooms at the Chesteron Public Schools Central Office. “
You know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but what Ashleigh Maynard, the main character of Thousand Words, learns is that it’s not exactly the full picture, nor the whole story.
Thousand Word is about Ashleigh Maynard who texts her boyfriend a nude picture of herself, and it gets leaked out to the entire school body and goes viral. She is faced with the consequences of the leaked picture—she is called horrible names, she is ostracized by friends and family, and she is ordered to do community service. The story moves back and forth from the present day when Ashleigh is doing her community service to the sexting incident when it happened, showing how the incident grows out of control.
Oh boy, Jennifer Brown has done it again. This was such a well-written book about what happens when sexting goes wrong. It’s not condemning people who do it, but creates awareness that there are consequences. When I read this book, I was filled with a bit of anxiety because this is something that can happen to anybody.
Let’s be honest, nobody follows the age-old cliché that tells us not to judge a book by its covers. If you say you do, I am side-eying you. Book covers are the first thing that attracts any of us readers to a book. Before you pick up a book, the cover can essentially make or break a book. If I don’t like a cover design, I won’t pick it up. Lucky for us, publishing companies publish different cover designs, especially when a paperback book comes out. Sometimes we like it, sometimes we don’t. Whatever the changes with cover designs, I will discuss it.
Today, we look at the cover of Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown.
Okay, so, you know how I don’t like it when book cover shows a person face? Yeeeahhh, not of fan of both covers. When I first saw the cover for the hardcover version, I made a face because I am shallow and that guy’s face is not cute at all! Despite that, I do prefer the hardcover design over the paperback because it shows that these two kids are in a car, basically running away (exactly like what happens in the book). It emphasizes that this book is about two people.
(This is a nitpicky thing about the hardcover design. Do you see how the two models are situated in the car? Is it just me or is the guy sitting in the back seat? I do believe Grayson sits in the front seat next to Kendra in the book. So why is he sitting in the back?)
I really do not like the paperback design. It doesn’t show that this book is about a pair of teen siblings taking a car and running away. Also, why is her shirt heart shapes? EWWWW. But I do like the font and the light purple color! It fills up the cover better.
What do you think about the cover change? Which do you prefer?
Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art — until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all — with enough distance, maybe she’ll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.
First sentence: “I was six the first time we found Grayson at the quarry.”
A book dealing with a disorder. OCD! Finally! I really enjoyed the book. This books is so much more than a road trip or about OCD. It’s about Kendra confronting her feelings/issues with her brother and coming to terms with them. And a road trip is the perfect setting for everything to be laid out on the table and to be addressed. They have to deal with their problems in a small space (the car) in a big world. The only major problem I had with the book was the awkward usage of language and unnecessary suspense, but other than that, I thought Jennifer Brown did a splendid job with the book.
- OCD at its worst!
Jennifer Brown did her research! I really enjoyed the way she was able to portray OCD. She showed how it affects/controls the life of the person who suffers from it and their family. Everybody’s lives are forever changed because of it. I loved that we got to see both sides of it and see how the characters deal with it (like the scene where Kendra finally tells Grayson what she did and about how she had to be absolutely perfect for their parents to get their parents to notice her, and Grayson responds that he wishes he could do the normal stuff that he sees Kendra do with their parents). We see people who accept Grayson for who he is, people who walk on eggshells around him, and people who resents him.
- Sibling relationship!
I find Kendra’s and Grayson’s relationship fascinating. Their interactions were cute. They argued with each other, they were frustrated with each other. They clearly love each other, but Grayson’s OCD gets in the way of everything. Kendra has this resentment against her brother because her life is flipped upside-down and he, in a sense, affected her relationship with their parents, her best friend, and…Grayson himself. On this road trip, they begin to understand a bit more about each other. They both are able to put their feelings on the table.
- The ending!
I like that the ending didn’t solve Kendra’s and Grayson’s problems. It wasn’t tidied up in a neat little box with a bow. I know many people had a problem, but I thought it was fitting because their problems won’t immediately solved. It’s extremely realistic that it’ll take some time to completely deal with OCD and the cheating scandal. The ending was optimistic. With every issue out in the open, they are on a road to recovery.
- The wrong type of suspense – the “mysterious” reason for the road trip.
I was annoyed that we spent the majority of chapter 5 dwelling on this “mysterious incident” at school that made Kendra run away from it (which I had already guessed that it was a cheating scandal). The incident was continually referred to, but what happened wasn’t explicitly said out loud until Chapter 21, nearly 3/4 into the book. I understand the reasons not to reveal the entirety of the scandal because Kendra was still running away from her problems. I just thought it was unnecessary to only reveal a small portion of it when there were chapters spent talking about it.
- Awkward phrasing – the gerunds + “and”
I feel like I’m just being nitpicky, but I noticed that sentences are frequently started with “and.” Sometimes, sentences have no verb or subject, in favor for gerunds (verbs that end in “-ing” to make a noun). That annoys me. Yes, I know that sometimes sentences do not necessarily need a subject or a verb for the general plot of the story. However, when I read the book, I became confused at certain points in the book as to what the narrator was referring to. At those points, I wished that Jennifer Brown had rewritten the sentence so the sentence had a subject/verb to clarify certain things.
And Rena giggling, then whispering back, “That’s Mother Goose, you dork.”
And then drifting and drifting into a world where bricks were falling and opening up to the sun, which bore down on my face and made me smile. (p 282)
We start new paragraphs, but it’s unclear as to the subject. Wouldn’t it be easier to change the sentence to be more…active?
She’s such a sweetheart. At first, I didn’t understand her role into the road trip, but as I read, I realized that she served as a person who accepted Grayson for himself. Her presence is for readers to compare the way that she treats Grayson and how Kendra treats him. It’s interesting to see how Rena (and other people) are able to accept Grayson for who he is, but Kendra, Grayson’s blood-related sister, is unable to fully do that.
- A shit friend!
I am mad that Zoe was a shit friend. I couldn’t believe that she did not even pick up her phone when Kendra texted/called. I cannot imagine having a best friend who refuses to answer your texts on a daily basis.
- Go read it. You may come across a few issues (like I did), but the message of the story outweighs those issues. OCD + siblings + a road trip, what more do you want?