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Stella Chavez, a self-described “white girl in Latina skin,” has all the good-kid flags: straight A’s, clean-cut dates, and a wall full of soccer trophies. But when a new girl, Ruby Caroline, arrives in South Bend, she’s like a bomb set off in Stella’s life. No one at Mishawaka High can get over Ruby’s confidence (some say arrogance), her sexiness (some say sluttiness), or her pure love of trouble. Many kids are drawn to Ruby’s charisma, but Ruby chooses Stella as her only friend.
Stella’s group is baffled, then angry, as she begins to spend more time with Ruby and less with them. But old friends are the last thing on Stella’s mind. She is drawn into Ruby’s fascinating world where parents act like roommates, high school boys are nowhere near as interesting as college men, and there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried once. This is the story of a dangerous friendship, and the way girls can support each other through challenges their parents often don’t know about.
“This engrossing story of a good girl’s fascination with her wild new friend strikes chords that will resonate with many teens… In her debut, Guerra demonstrates insight into the temptations and troubles of late adolescence, all rendered with nicely flowing prose and dialogue. She grounds her story in reality, and her characters come across as interesting, believable individuals, with Stella especially sympathetic and Ruby a standout original… A strong new voice.” — Kirkus Reviews (full review)
“Guerra’s gritty novel (Amazon Children’s Pub., 2012) is a spectacularly realistic portrait of a teen torn between her former friends and the new girl in school, running the family household and having fun in high school, and being a friend who goes along with anything or one who really cares… This is a wonderful story with real characters in real situations. Casey Holloway’s narration is as authentic as the story she is telling. A compelling listen that won’t stay on the self.–School Library Journal Audiobook Pick of the Day, starred review (Joan Kindig) full review
“The author’s thoughtful and nonjudgmental approach creates an engaging, authentic portrayal of female friendship.” — The Horn Book Guide
“Stella Chavez’s usual routine—going through the motions of dating, playing soccer, and hanging on the fringe of the popular crowd—forever changes after fiery Ruby Caroline arrives senior year. Instantly drawn to Ruby’s magnetic personality, Stella begins dating a college guy and palling around with Ruby exclusively, losing her former childhood friends in the process. It’s easy to see the attraction to Ruby, who considers high school “an incestuous, viperous little gossip pit” and emanates mystery and a confidence beyond her years. When Ruby enters an abusive relationship with a much older man, turns to drugs, and becomes a pariah at school, Stella must decide where her allegiance lies. Realism drives this debut novel in which Stella finds herself torn on other fronts, too: her Mexican identity and own issues with racism, her responsibility to help her single mother care for the family, and the connections between Ruby’s situation and her drug-addict father’s behaviors. The story’s strong voice and complex characters will convince readers to forgive the too-tidy ending.” — Booklist
“This fast, compelling read emphasizes female empowerment, especially regarding female bullying and inappropriate relationships.” — VOYA
“This is a fairly short but seriously intense read, with a couple of extremely strong scenes which are amongst the most gruelling I’ve ever read in a YA novel. It also benefits from some absolutely superb characters…as a modern coming-of-age story this ranks up there with the best of them. Guerra’s writing style is really readable and it’s a fast-paced book which had me completely gripped…Oh, one brief warning – while I’m convinced teens will absolutely devour this, their parents may want to steer well clear unless they want some sleepless nights!” 5 stars — YA Yeah Yeah full review
“Stephanie Guerra’s debut novel is a moving, authentic take on the complexities of female friendship. It’s an accessible, memorable read that will appeal to many teen readers. Surprising, edgy, and unflinchingly real, this book deserves some attention. Although the basic premise of Guerra’s novel is one that has been done before, it’s rare that it’s done as well as this one is. What is unique about Guerra’s story is that both her protagonist and the so-called bad-girl are remarkably well-drawn. Both Stella and Ruby are fully-formed characters. Both girls have appealing qualities to their personalities as well as legitimate, authentic flaws… While Ruby’s actions become increasingly hard to watch (both for Stella and the reader), there’s never a moment that rings false. — Clementine Bojangles, Early Nerd Special full review
“Stephanie Guerra’s Torn pits stability against the unfamiliar. It’s a question of friendship; do you remain loyal and help the other the best way you can, or do you walk away and return to the life you once had? I loved this book… Torn is a must-read.” 5 stars – EY Magazine full review
“I loved this book. It was like nothing I’ve read before; mainly because Stephanie has created such a realistic novel that you just jump in and relate to everything that is going on.” 4 stars — The Girl in a Cafe full review
“Stephanie is a writing teacher and her strong sense of craft shines through this unflinching and powerful novel.” — Writer on the Side full review