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Torn Away

Torn Away

3.1 10
by James Heneghan

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Thirteen-year-old Declan lives only for revenge. His mother, father and sister were all killed on the streets of Belfast, and Declan will stop at nothing to settle the score. When he is torn away from his native soil and sent to live with relatives in Canada, he is disgusted by their efforts to welcome him into their lives, and determined to make them regret their


Thirteen-year-old Declan lives only for revenge. His mother, father and sister were all killed on the streets of Belfast, and Declan will stop at nothing to settle the score. When he is torn away from his native soil and sent to live with relatives in Canada, he is disgusted by their efforts to welcome him into their lives, and determined to make them regret their hospitality. Can he devise a plan to return to Ireland and rejoin his cause? Or will the strange beauty of his new life and surroundings weaken his resolve?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After his mother and younger sister are killed in a terrorist bombing in their native Belfast, Declan joins the Holy Terrors, a youth gang modeled after the IRA. When the authorities catch up with him, Declan is sent--very much against his will--to a small town in British Columbia, to live with his father's brother Matthew and his family. Angry, embittered and determined to return to Ireland as soon as possible, Declan has little affection for his gentle uncle, whom he considers a ``meddling, do-good fixer'' and a cowardly runaway. He himself undertakes several daring escapes. Gradually, however, the tranquility of his new home leads Declan to reexamine his notions of courage and heroism. Flashbacks give a bitter taste of the violence that forms a part of everyday life in Belfast and of Declan's impassioned fury. As the narrative moves to its easily anticipated happy ending, however, the plot starts seeming forced. Burdened by the novel's overaccentuated messages of pacifism, characterization suffers: Matthew and his wife, for instance, are so sweet-natured that they don't seem entirely real. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
The ALAN Review - John Noell Moore
Almost half of this novel deals with thirteen-year-old terrorist Declan Boyle's attempts to escape when his Uncle Matthew has him kidnapped in Belfast and brought to safety deep in the Canadian woods. Driven to return to Ireland to avenge the brutal deaths of his father, mother, and sister, Declan encounters others once homeless - an elderly woman, a child with Downs Syndrome, and a Native America "brother." Stubbornly resistant to Christian charity and efforts to "fix" him, at last he accepts his new world. Set against the sisterly love of Ana, Declan's recurring nightmares and Matthew and Kate Boyles' detailed stories of Irish terrorism offer gripping images of the costs of war that will catch and hold the imaginations of middle-school readers. Torn Away clearly describes issues of modern Northern Ireland and should set the stage for further historical research and discussion.
Declan Doyle is a teenage boy from Northern Ireland who has one goal in life: to avenge the deaths of his father, mother, and younger sister. He is a member of the Holy Terrors, a children's street gang that is a branch of the IRA, and he must take care of himself in this violent, hate-filled place. He ends up being "torn away" from his homeland and forced to go to Canada to live with his uncle, Matthew, who had also once lived in Ireland and fled to Canada for a better life for himself and his family. Delcan fights the situation with all his might and tries to escape back to Ireland several times. He and Matthew make a deal that if Declan still wants to go back to Ireland at the end of three months, Matthew will pay his way back. Declan settles in for his three-month "sentence" and, against his will, learns to care about Matthew's family while developing a strong bond with a boy from school. Matthew shares the truth behind the death of Declan's family and helps the teen to see Ireland in a different way. As his time of return draws closer, Declan must decide what is more important to him, his past or his future. Historically, this book is an eye-opener. It presents the struggles of Northern Ireland in an understandable and non-judgmental way. However, at times the book seems simplistic. Sometimes the scenes aren't very well developed and the action skips to the next scene without much flow. Overall, a decent book with a new story, not your everyday run-of-the-mill subject. It might be well used in a social studies class studying Ireland. It is suitable for senior high due to its subject matter but written on a junior high reading level. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and seniorhigh school students. 2003, Orca, 256p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Erin Lukens Darr
In Ireland, where this book starts, the Irish are fighting against the British and the Protestants. Declan Doyle has lived with the fighting for as long as he can remember. When both his parents and sister die because of the battle, Declan joins a gang against the British and Protestants. He is a natural rebel, making bombs, threatening people, and blowing up cars. But soon his is yanked away by his Uncle Matthew to live with him in Canada. Declan has no desire to stay in Canada, he would do anything to get back to Ireland and resume his battles. He then makes an agreement with his uncle that if he stays for three months and goes to school, then his uncle will pay Declan's way back to Ireland. This novel kept me entertained the entire time; I honestly could not wait to find out if he was going to decide to stay or go or if he was actually going to make it the three months. This is a great novel about a teenager who was moving in a downward spiral and, when he is given a chance to see the whole picture, he really grows up a lot and realizes what is important. There comes a time for every teenager when he or she finally starts to see a bigger picture of the world. 2003, Orca Book Publishers, 256 pp. Ages young adult. Reviewer: Jessica Doehrman
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-After his mother and sister were killed in a bombing incident, 13-year-old Declan Doyle took to the streets of Belfast with a gang called the Holy Terrors. His pre-IRA training is now cut short when he is ``torn away from his native soil'' and sent to live with his deceased father's brother in western Canada. Driven by dreams of revenge, the boy runs away, planning to return home to Ireland. Unable to escape, he makes a deal to stay with his relatives in their idyllic Vancouver fishing village for three months. Adjusting to a new country and a new family, yet still nursing his hatred of everything British, Declan is befriended by his cousins and a classmate. Finally, he is comes to understand the futility of the violence in his homeland and realizes how attached to his new life he has become. Fast-paced action opens the novel and immediately engages readers. Contemporary language and vivid description add to the sense of reality and enhance the easily readable style. Heneghan avoids arguments on the rights or wrongs of the Irish conflict, focusing instead on the human issues: families destroyed and lives torn apart by terrorist warfare. A great title to booktalk.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA
Hazel Rochman
"They handcuffed him to the seat so he could cause no trouble on the airplane." No further booktalk needed. The title, the cover, and the dramatic opening scenes will grab readers. At 13, Declan is wild and angry at being torn away from his home in Northern Ireland and forced to join his uncle's family in Canada. He wants to stay and fight with the IRA in the streets of Belfast and get bloody revenge for the deaths of his family: his mother and sister were blown up in a bomb attack; his father was shot dead years before. The story is satisfyingly predictable: we know that Declan will slowly become less rebellious and succumb to the love of his relatives and to the wild beauty of the coastal town near Vancouver. The moral is clear: violence solves nothing. That lesson's too heavily underlined at times, especially with the suddenly interposed revelation that Declan's father was not a hero, but an informer. However, readers will feel for the desperate boy nearly destroyed by civil war. The best scenes evoke his haunting memories of guns and firebombs and contrast those nightmares with the rich silence of the wilderness and the kindness of community.
The Alan Review
"This novel kept me entertained the entire time..."
The Observer
"A recommended read for the way it deals with the very real internal struggle to overcome violence as a way of life."

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

A former fingerprint specialist with the Vancouver Police Department, James Heneghan has won numerous awards for his books for young readers, including the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Award three times for Flood, Wish Me Luck and The Grave. James lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

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3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
At school we were forced to read this book, and I absolutely dreaded reading it. The plot was simple and predictable. The characters were unreal and hard to relate to. And the violence in the story is unsuitable for children under 13. I did not like this book at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book I read was very adventurous, exciting, and suspenseful. Throughout the book I was on the edge of my seat always guessing what was going to happen next. It began with a boy named Declan experiencing the lost of his father, mother, and sister. Following this he was sent to live with his uncle. Once arriving he tried to escape, but was caught and was taken back to his uncle. When he returned his uncle made a promise that if he stayed till Christmas he would be free to go. In order to figure out if Declan stays or returns to his homeland, you will have to read the rest of the book. If you like to read at all you will like this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my opinion the book 'Torn Away' from the author James Heneghan,who writes very realistic,explain the dramatic experiences of the young boy Declan whos family have been killed in the violence of Northern Ireland.This book is full of feelings and there is on the one side the harmful and peaceful Canada where the Doyles live and on the other side the dangerous fights in Northern Ireland where is Declan's home.Declan is in an inner conflict with himself and this the author presents very authenticly in my opinion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To my mind the book is a realistic, interesting and dramatic story. The conflicts in Ireland are present authentically. I ate up that book, because the book is full of emotions and the problems, the author describes, aroused my interest in that Irish conflict.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We were forced to read this accumulation of paperbits in our English class. From the first sentence on I was disappointed by Declan's behaviour because of his immature nature. It is understandable that his mother's and sister's deaths made him confused and aiming to take revenge. But this cannot explain either why he isn't able to confide in anyone but reacts aggressively against people who love him, he is not the first one to have lost his parents... Perhaps we didn't appreciate the novel for its protagonist is a know-it-all kid who focuses on HIS problems to make himself interesting and to be noticed and admired for his particularity. Finally, the happy end is farly predictable and sucks so much that even if you liked the rest of the novel, you'll hate the book after it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Torn away is the sad story of a young irish freedom fighter, who had lost his family in the bloody Northern Ireland conflict and who is therefore forced to live with his uncle Matthew and his family in Canada. He didn`t come to terms living in Canada, until he really notized what terrible events waited for him at home. In my opinion, the author could describe the very emotional feelings which Declan had, but it`s not easy to really feel what moved him, if you are not so involved in the Northern Ireland conflict. (Another reason for my 'misunderstanding' could be my miserable English skills).That is why you should read the book in your mother language as well, if you really want to get everything. To sum up: I´t`s a good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was reading this book for my English class, and so it seemed to me: a typical reading list book: the teenage reader is meant to get a deeper insight on the conflict in Northern Ireland. This part worked out pretty good, but in my opinion the story lacks some kind of action on the one hand side and a more profound discussion and illustration of Declan's feelings on the other. In addition, I had the impression that this is a typical book for teenagers up to 14-15 years, the way the book was written. This is why I can only recommend 'Torn Away' as a source for better understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict, but not as a good novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Torn away' is a nice book...its very simple to read. Some passages are a little bit boring but the most passages are very interesting and exciting! Its very funny if you try to identify yourself with the main charakter of the book called 'Declan'. The book is quite 'ok'.... greetings martin P.S. But it doesnt really rule!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In school we were 'forced' to read this book for our English lessons. I read it completely and I have to admit that sometimes it has been attractive. The topic is quite interesting and you learn a lot about Northern Ireland and the youth's problems fighting for the opportunity to take revenge. But the book is written in a very simple way and the expressions of emotions are very neutral. It is a book you can read in class, but if you want to read it alone I can only tell you that you should order more attractive books!