Saturday, April 7, 2012


Torn by Stephanie Guerra
4/5 stars
Marshall Cavendish, 2012
263 pages
YA; Contemporary; Issues

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For some reason, I had gotten the impression that this book was about a girl in an abusive relationship, torn between the love she feels for the sweet boyfriend and the intense emotional and physical pain he inflicts upon her. It is definitely about strong internal conflicts but romance is only part of the plot.

Main character Stella assumed some adult responsibilities early on in life when her drug-addicted father abandoned the family; as the eldest child, she stepped up to help her mother look after her two siblings. She seems like the typical good girl with good grades, friendly to people, and a spot on the soccer team. During her senior year, she meets new girl Ruby Caroline, a brash, exciting girl and Stella finds herself caught up in Ruby's orbit even as the danger gathers.

How is Ruby trouble? Oh, let me count the ways.
1. She is possessive of Stella, alienating the pair from the rest of the school population
2. No real adult supervision or caring, allowing her to do pretty much whatever she wants.
3. Messed-up ideas about relationships
4. A penchant for older men
5. Her drug consumption. Let's talk about that a little.

I may be am a bit sheltered and I was absolutely overwhelmed by the consumption of alcohol and other drugs in this book. First because it's far beyond my ken, nothing at all resembling my high school experience. But also because of Stella's family history. I had an alcoholic family member who died before I was even born and that combined with school education against drugs has been more than sufficient to keep me away from all of it. But Stella drinks a lot even as she draw a line at the "harder" drugs like heroin and Ruby is constantly seeking a new thrill through various drugs.

In addition those, we have Stella in a pretty serious relationship, struggles over her Mexican heritage, family conflict. and her applications to colleges (or rather application to one college).  I didn't feel that they received proper attention as the magnet that is Ruby drew most of the attention. She was a compelling character who popped on the page even as I saw some of her negative influences on Stella.  Ruby herself is incredibly lost and the book does not neatly wrap everything up although there are optimistic hopes that these two young ladies will be able to work it out.

Overall: The sparkling Ruby helped keep me engaged in the plot even through frustrating parts and the ending was highly amusing if tonally a little different from the rest of the book.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of this book before this review. It sounds very interesting, but also something that has been written about multiple times. I am glad that you enjoyed it. I will have to check it out. Thanks!


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