I received an eARC from Marshall Cavendish via Netgalley. Thank you.
Torn is a bit different from what I expected. But it was cool that it wasn’t what I initially anticipated. For starters, for a short novel (my copy has 236 pages) it dealt with a lot of issues, and most of it, I must say were subtly executed. I’m not sure if I was impressed that it tried to tackle a lot of themes but for most parts I’m surprisingly contended with the outcome.
Stella is a good girl, good in academics and also athletic. She’s also part of the good crowd. But everything changed when Ruby, her complete opposite barged into her life. I thought it’s a story of a good girl gone bad that needs saving. What I didn’t anticipated that it was Stella that will do the saving. So I find that really new, really nice. At first when Ruby was dragging Stella I thought I got it all figured it out. Then as the story progressed, Stella, even though she also has baggage of her own still adamant on helping people around her. People that she cares about. I really liked her attitude of standing up for what she believes in. When she and Mike are still dating, and Mike wanted Stella to meet his parents, he told her that he lied to them telling that she’s Spanish (when she’s actually Mexican). I loved that she didn’t allow to be controlled and most of all, not hiding her ethnicity. It is part of who we are, no matter what our race is. There were several times that she insisted to Mike what she firmly believes in. I was really impressed that finally a young girl, a teenage girl who knows where to draw the line. They’re still teenager, and I completely and one hundred percent agree that there’s nothing wrong with falling in love. But it’s wrong when you allow it to dictate your life. There’s something called balance.
Like I said there are few issues slightly touched in this book like drugs, bullying, pre-marital sex, gang, ephebophilia (on Ruby’s case) family problem (slight racial discrimination issue) and even religion (I’m not a Catholic but I respect everyone’s beliefs) to simple teen problems like college applications. Glad to say it wasn’t overpowering and I give it to the author on how she put them together. But what one of the biggest and I would say concern was Ruby’s relationship with an older guy named Kenneth. There’s a hint of sexual relationship between her friend and the old guy (and I think a pain inflicted one). Not that I wanted more of it but until Stella confronted Kenneth (and even though she doesn’t trust him; I also doubted him) that was only then that me, as a reader, found out how toxic their relationship was. So I find it a little abrupt. Ruby—and although sometimes I find her really nice especially as her friend—has lot of issues. That Kenneth thing is just one of them then there’s drugs, I think she also has family problem of her own too. I just find that novel too Ruby-centric. I don’t particularly hate her but I’m not really that fond of her. Though I was really pleased that everything works out in the end.
Finally, I don’t completely agree with what her mother said about unable to save people from themselves. You can try though, for me, you can help them save themselves. But yes, in a way it’s still completely up to them (if they want to be saved).
Torn was a nice read. This is a not a teen romance book, it is more of a slice of life. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Because it was—is and we can learn a thing or two from Stella.