Torn by Stephanie GuerraPublished: May 15, 2012 by Marshall Cavendish
Stella Chavez is your classic good girl: straight As, clean-cut boyfriends, and soccer trophies . You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more.
New girl Ruby Caroline seems like Stella’s polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels . But with Ruby, Stella gets a taste of another world—a world in which parents act like roommates, college men are way more interesting than high school boys, and there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried once.
It’s not long before Stella finds herself torn: between the best friend she’s ever had and the friends she’s known forever, between her family and her own independence, between who she was and who she wants to be.
But Ruby has a darker side, a side she doesn’t show anyone—not even Stella. As Stella watches her friend slowly unravel, she will have to search deep inside herself for the strength to be a true friend, even if it means committing the ultimate betrayal.
Stella has always been a good girl. She gets good grades, is a great soccer player, and takes care of her younger sister while her mom is at work. Then Ruby comes along. Ruby is the cliche "bad girl" who has no rules at home, does drugs, and goes too far with boys because of her family situation. Stella suddenly gets a look at a lifestyle that is far different from her, and she is caught between the life she has always had and a life she didn't even know existed. Her friendship with Ruby soon starts having negative consequences with her long time friends, her grades, and her position on the soccer team.
Torn is a look into teenage dynamics when you are caught in the middle of friends who don't like each other and the decisions you make simply because another friend is doing it. The "exciting life" soon starts spiraling down, and Stella has to figure out how much is her choice and how much is just her following along with Ruby. She has to decide what path she wants her life to take. Then she also has to decide how far she will go to try to help a friend. Will she let it slide to keep her friend from being mad or her, or will she confront her and possibly lose the friendship?
I thought this story was a very realistic look into the decisions that teenagers face more often than we sometimes want to admit. Stephanie Guerra has done a great job with her first novel. The pacing throughout was consistent and enough to keep you interested. I would recommend this to older YA readers because of the drugs, alcohol, and the discussions of sex.
A copy was provided by the publisher for review.
About the author:
Stephanie Guerra has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame. She teaches children’s literature and a seminar in writing instruction at Seattle University. She also teaches creative writing at King County Jail, and researches and speaks about literacy instruction for at-risk and incarcerated young adults. She would like to encourage her readers to donate used books to juvenile correctional facilities. Stephanie lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and children. TORN is her first novel.
Find out more about Stephanie Guerra.