Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: Torn by Stephanie Guerra

TornTorn by Stephanie Guerra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Torn by Stephanie Guerra
Published by Marshall Cavendish
Pub Date May 15, 2012
263 pages
**This review is based on an uncorrected digital proof received through NetGalley**

In her debut novel, Torn, Stephanie Guerra shares the story of an unlikely friendship between Ruby Caroline, a badass redhead out of Utah, and Stella Chavez, a soccer champ who has lived in South Bend, Indiana for all 17 years of her life. Stella is both terrified and fascinated by Ruby. She’s beautiful, brave, and more hip and “advanced” than just about anyone Stella has ever known. For Stella, Ruby is a lot like chocolate: tempting, addictive, and bad for your health in large quantities. After one lunch together, Stella and Ruby become inseparable. They go on what Ruby refers to as “adventures” that include things like trysts with the college boys from Notre Dame, and flirtations with an even older guy, aka the “Silver Fox.”

For Stella, Ruby is such a refreshing break from her normally structured and responsible life where she goes to several AP classes, dates the nice guys, and goes home to take care of the house and her siblings while her mother works double shifts as a waitress. However, as Ruby’s behavior becomes more erratic, Stella starts questioning her loyalty to an increasingly stressful friendship. Is Ruby fun or just a sociopath?

So, what did I think? Honestly, I didn’t think the writing in Torn was as strong as it could have been in spots, but so many of the observations were spot on, and I ended up reading the whole thing in one afternoon because I couldn’t put it down. Guerra’s snippets about the catty tactics of high school girls, and the sleazy older guys who try to pick them on kept making me laugh, and sigh in recognition.

I rarely comment on covers, but I’ve got to say that I don’t think the cover or title give a good idea of what the book is about. If I hadn’t read the summary on NetGalley, I don’t think I would have picked this up in the bookstore.

What really hooked me was the main character, Stella Chavez. She’s so strong, thoughtful, spunky and all around amazing, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. Don’t be put off by the generic title and the wimpy-looking girl on the cover.

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