Friday, September 11, 2009

Review: A Must-Read YA Book by Amber Lehman!

Torn
By Amber Lehman
Closet Case Press
ISBN: 9780979593369
404 Pages

The world is a difficult place for children. Thank God we turn out as well as we do.”

In addition to loving to read, I appreciate books that have been obviously created with care. Amber Lehman, in Torn, gives credit to Jill Ronsley. Kudos to both of you for creating a truly beautiful book. Torn is a young adult novel (17+) based upon true stories gathered by the author during her own life. Readers will recognize the love and concern with which she heard and remembered those individuals and their lives, by reading the above beginning note from the author.

I quickly point out that this novel is erotic/sexy—a dramatized story of a young girl named Krista. It is an exciting adventure that many teens will enjoy and learn from through Lehman’s subtle but excellent approach.

It may be a difficult book for parents to read; but, in my opinion, you must. Amber Lehman provides a well-written, truly realistic story of the lives of various teens at a local high school. It could be the school your children attend. It could be the lives your children are leading. It could be you, the absent parent(s). With proper guidance and discussions, if I had younger teens, I would also share this book with those mid-teens that are the true characters in this book!

Krista is 14 when her family moves from Ohio to Southern California. Throughout her early years of school she attended a private religious school for girls. Krista would be attending public school for the first time. Her mother is gone for a year, on a church mission in Nicaragua. During her absence, her older half-brother, Marc, a pediatrician, is living at home with Krista and her other half-brother Josh—both with whom she has had little experience in relating/living. Krista dreads starting school.

Krista is artistic, and in choosing a dance class, she finds she’s also part of the cheerleaders. There she met Carrie, who became her best friend, and others. Through Carrie she met Brandon, or rather, she saw Brandon with Carrie as they were making out in the corridors near their lockers. Brandon had pulled back from Carrie, licked his lips at Krista, as if Carrie was no longer there! Quite a first impression about him!

It was only later that Krista learned that Brandon was gay.

Krista had never been kissed. Now she was meeting new boys all around her. So in sharing her fear with Carrie, they decided to learn by kissing each other. That first experiment led to many other sex-related encounters as Krista tries to become comfortable in this new world. All of the girls surrounding her were always talking about boys and what they could do to get their attention--even her brother Josh!

One of her friends then invited her to join a Bible study group at her home, taught by her brother, Daemon, who was twice Krista’s age. He was Aeliese’s guardian while their parents, who were also missionaries, were away from home. Krista also attended their church and found it quite different—where were the statues, the confession booth, the majesty of the priests in long robes? So much was so different! Krista had nowhere to turn to discuss all of these strange and new experiences, except older brothers and friends. And then Krista began to have other ideas about Aeliese’s older brother.

This story is sexy, because the children in the story are surrounded by experiences that include sexuality—drinking, drugs, and what can happen under their influence; sexual orientation experimentation; early experiences of abuse; but, more importantly, the sharing and caring, and, yes, love, that grows between young teens when they have few, if any, adults with whom to relate and discuss such important issues. Torn by decisions that they must make each day.

Step into the lives of the teens you know and love! Read Torn by Amber Lehman. Reality awaits you in this inspiring, frank and, yet, sensitive love story. Meet Krista and her friends now!

G. A. Bixler