Release Date: April 1st, 2012
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Buy It: Book Depository
High school senior Stella's life centers on helping her mother raise her younger brother and sister, AP classes, and soccer until a new student, Ruby, draws her into a friendship that includes sneaking out out of the house, dating college boys, and worse. 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.I really liked the bad girl in this book, Ruby, who reminds me an awful lot of Ruby from Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma just because of her charismatic nature and her don't give a damn attitude. Stella wasn't the most interesting character, though I could definitely sympathize with the pressure she feels from all the responsibility of helping with her siblings, and how that could lead her to a breaking point. There was also the aspect of Stella being part Mexican, which could have been interesting but felt like it was dealt with in a way that was slightly boring and not memorable. If it was going to be important to the story, I wanted a little more out of it.
The friendship between Stella and Ruby did feel authentic though, and was probably my favourite component of Torn. However, my major problem with this book is that the biggest revelation / change of heart happens off-stage. After being so involved with Ruby, I felt like I was cheated. It also all seemed to happen pretty suddenly, and things worked out a little too well in the end. The ending caused Torn to lose some of its well-earned authenticity, because it's rare that everything gets wrapped up so neatly. After the dark detours that Guerra took the reader on, I guess I was surprised at the niceness of the final destination.
Overall, Guerra's debut deals with some relevant themes in a realistic and moving way, and although the main character wasn't that interesting, the sharp edge of her best friend compensated enough to make it an enjoyable read even if the climax and ending didn't quite live up to the book's potential.