Torn

Torn - Stephanie Guerra Stephanie Guerra's "Torn" is a young adult novel that I have to commend for taking on a lot of tough issues in the life of a multicultural teen falling into the wrong crowds and learning what it means to rise above the adversity and become more settled into herself. It's also a book I think will have a lot of people talking about the issues within it, for good reason, because quite many of these issues are relevant problems that a teen faces - including peer pressure, bullying, drug-use, relationship development and relationship abuse, racism (particularly in the case of multicultural and minority teens), among other dimensions. But my concern with "Torn" is that while some of these issues are beautifully shown with ample opportunities for the protagonist to step up to the plate and stand her ground, I'm not sure if it was handled evenly on all of those spectrums. Perhaps, in retrospect, they could've been delved into a little more for proper closure.Still, I think "Torn" standing on its own did stir quite a bit in me to consider the larger story at hand. In retrospect, I liked reading it, though I consider it with some caveats. Stella is a young woman who isn't likely to stumble into trouble, and she seems secure in her social circles and life - being a part of a knit clique of girls and wanting to go to college in the future, though having fears about being able to get into a good school and affording it considering her family circumstances. All this changes when Ruby comes barging in as the new girl at Stella's high school (and she makes quite the entrance!)It becomes evident that Ruby's part of the larger thread that starts unraveling Stella's supposedly secure world - making Stella question her group of friends, her capacity to build a loving personal relationship, and wanting to shape her own future. But the further that things get along, Stella realizes that Ruby has her fair share of issues as well, and some of them are quite shockingly asserted. Stella realizes that she has to step it up in order to help Ruby, as well as herself, find stable ground in the mix of their relationships and attitudes. Stella is probably the most developed member of the collective cast of characters - the rest feel more like they fill the backdrop upon the canvas of events that take place in the novel, and I wish that the backing character development was strong than what it was. I wish that more time could've been placed into the ethics and resolution of some of the issues tackled here, but I think the audience that "Torn" is aimed for will see the moral dilemmas and be able to take the messages in this novel for what they are, and hopefully be able to think about them in terms of where Stella stumbles and where she holds her own and grows from the experience.Overall, I would say this is certainly a novel worth the read from the perspective of a multicultural teen's coming of age. There are quite a bit of shock factors to consider, but in the end, it's worth seeing them in context and being able to take consideration of them even beyond the dimensions this novel covers. I just wish it had been a little more even in is presentation, and that the ending had had a bit more conclusive resolution.Overall score: 3/5Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Marshall Cavendish.