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 reReview: 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. ...more
My clinical supervisor recommended this book to me after I told her about a brief encounter with a bipolar client. That's just scratching the surfaceMy clinical supervisor recommended this book to me after I told her about a brief encounter with a bipolar client. That's just scratching the surface of my experience with people living with bipolar disorder---or me living with people living with bipolar disorder. Many consumers and counselors today have observed that Bipolar Disorder has become kind of the diagnosis du jour, and while that can help somewhat in reducing the stigma, I believe it also takes something away from the people who truly do have this illness. As Kay Redfield Jamison points out, Bipolar Disorder is primarily a medical problem that needs to be treated with drugs. Lithium does happen to be one of the most efficient ways to treat this illness. Unfortunately, a lot of patients and doctors shy-away from it because the blood-level monitoring that goes with it leads to additional visits and increased chances of non-compliance on the part of the patient. In An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Jamison provides unforgettable examples that illustrate what this disease is and what it isn't. As someone who has been friends, and remains friends, with people struggling with this illness, I think it's worth mentioning that the moods may be a hallmark feature of the disorder, but there is more to it than that. Often times, the tragedy of this illness is it often affects people who are extremely bright and creative, and believe they should be able to snap out of it. Like a dog who barks at the postal worker, if the bipolar client waits long enough, the black mood eventually will recede just like the postal worker goes away, and a false cause-effect relationship emerges and is proven repeatedly. Manias and depressions place those suffering from Bipolar Disorder and their families in the path of substantial physical, financial and emotional harm, so this cycle can be extremely destructive when left unchecked. What is particularly helpful and encouraging about Dr. Jamison's work is that she is obviously a very bright and resilient woman, and even she struggled with this illness for a long time. She also learned how to manage it and accept it as part of who she is, and something that she needs to manage. This is an important book for anyone who wants to better understand this illness whether you believe you might have it or have someone in your life who is struggling with it. It's also a powerful and well-written book. I started it last Friday and was barely able to put it down....more