Published: May 15, 2012
Publisher: 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.
Torn really brought back some memories of my junior high days. I had a few Rubys come through my life and I could really empathize with Stella's struggle to know where to draw the line in their friendship. This was what really kept me reading. I wanted to know just how far Stella would let Ruby push the boundaries and how she would finally say enough. I found that she had a much farther boundary than I would have.
Both of the girls' characters are well developed and it is easy to see why they are drawn to each other, especially as we learn more about Stella's father. Ruby is looking for someone willing to accept her, while Stella wants to leave behind the responsibilities of helping her single mom raise two younger siblings. A few of the situations they find themselves in may seem a bit extreme, but sadly are entirely possible. At times I wished I could have seen into Ruby's head, just to know what exactly was driving her down such a destructive path. What she does reveal to Stella seems more like the nice version of her life, and that she was still hiding parts of what happened to her.
The only thing that kept me from giving this 5 stars is that the ending just seemed too predictable. I thought there could have been a more real ending.
Torn is definitely not a book for younger teens as it deals with drugs, alcohol, and illegal underage relationships even though nothing is explicit.
Did I mention that I love the cover? The earth tone colors are really appealing and I love that the girl pictured could pass for someone of mixed heritage.