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Stella Chavez is your classic good girl: straight As, clean-cut boyfriends, and soccer trophies. You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who had walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more.

New girl Ruby Caroline seems like Stella’s polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels. But Stella is pulled in by Ruby’s infectious confidence, brutal honesty, and die-hard loyalty. With Ruby, Stella gets a taste of ...

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Stella Chavez is your classic good girl: straight As, clean-cut boyfriends, and soccer trophies. You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who had walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more.

New girl Ruby Caroline seems like Stella’s polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels. But Stella is pulled in by Ruby’s infectious confidence, brutal honesty, and die-hard loyalty. With Ruby, Stella gets a taste of another world — a world in which parents act like roommates, college men are way more interesting than high school boys, and there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried once.

It’s not long before Stella finds herself torn: between the best friend she’s ever had and the friends she’s known forever, between her family and her own independence, between who she was and who she wants to be.

But Ruby has a darker side, a side she doesn’t show anyone — not even Stella. As Stella watches her friend slowly unravel, she will have to search deep inside herself for the strength to be a true friend, even if it means committing the ultimate betrayal.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lisa A. Hazlett
Stella is a caring teen, viewing her central role as co-parenting with her single mother. Beginning senior year with a close friend having moved and feeling ambivalent regarding college, sheltered Stella is intrigued when Ruby, a new student with a mercurial, daring, and flamboyant lifestyle, befriends her. Although Stella quickly questions Ruby's darker side of shoplifting, drugs, reckless dating, and a mysterious, sordid past, she draws closer and guiltily experiments with a wilder lifestyle. Once Ruby begins using hard drugs and dating a sinister, much-older man, though, Stella stalls her own life to become Ruby's caretaker, an increasingly dangerous and difficult role. Stella's exclusivity sidelines former friends, who, disliking Ruby, cruelly bully both girls, but after Ruby's issues become overwhelming and contribute to her burgeoning problems, Stella unburdens their friendship secrets to her mother. She also finally witnesses her family's capabilities, unnoticed by her unwavering household routines. Narrated by every-girl Stella, this fast, compelling read emphasizes female empowerment, especially regarding female bullying and inappropriate relationships. As Ruby is seen only through Stella, however, important facts of Ruby's questionable past remain hidden, partially described but never verified, so understanding of her complex, interesting character is hindered. Ruby's questionable relationship seems as improbable as the girls safely purchasing drugs from threatening dealers. Still, Ruby's perfectly engineered skewering of the queen-bee bullies at graduation is a stunning (albeit contrived) ending that will cause females to cheer while predicting the girls' promising futures. Reviewer: Lisa A. Hazlett
Children's Literature - Miranda McClain
Being the new kid in school is never easy but Ruby makes things much harder on herself than she needs to by showing up her first day in outrageous, trashy clothes and mouthing off to everyone around her. And yet for some reason Stella, a straight A student and athlete, is drawn to something she sees in her. They become fast friends to the exclusion of Stella's old friends and even her current boyfriend. Stella is sometimes shocked by Ruby's wild behavior but she feels a connection in that both girls' have dads who walked out on them. Stella may be getting in over her head though as Ruby leads her down a road that is full of alcohol, hard drugs, and college boys. It is not until Stella finds out that Ruby's much older boyfriend is not who he claims to be and is into some scary things, that she decides it is time to ask for help. She almost loses Ruby's friendship in the process but both girls manage to keep their heads above water and stay friends in the end. The book has some very intense themes including statutory rape, drug use, and there is quite a bit of underage drinking which is treated rather lightly, though there are at least a few realistic repercussions for the girls to face. All together the book is pretty over the top and may be a trifle extreme for younger readers. Reviewer: Miranda McClain
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Always the good girl and responsible older sister, Stella Chavez begins her senior year in South Bend, Indiana, with a small circle of close friends. Then Ruby moves to town. Fascinated with someone so unlike herself, Stella begins to spend more time with a friend who dates older men, snorts cocaine, and does as she pleases. While Stella is attracted to this exciting life, she is also conflicted. She feels obligated to assist her overworked single mother, maintain an excellent academic record, and apply to Notre Dame. After a series of troubling experiences, the girls' relationship becomes mutually beneficial, with Ruby helping Stella to discover the worth of her own family, appreciate her cultural heritage, and understand true friendship. Stella encourages Ruby to break off a destructive relationship with an older man and invites her into the Chavez family circle. The novel covers racism and cultural heritage, drug abuse, shoplifting, friends and family relationships, dating older men, bullying, and college anxiety. Given the vast array of contemporary topics explored, readers are left with a superficial treatment of these complex problems. Written in the first person, the narration often sounds stilted, and the teens use adultlike phrases. Stella refers to her date as "not quite as striking as [Ruby's date]" and Ruby explains, "There are some caveats to dating college guys."—Babara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761462729
  • Publisher: Cavendish, Marshall Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/28/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 657,959
  • Age range: 15 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie Guerra has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and teaches children’s literature in the College of Education at Seattle University. She is also the Seattle host for the teen fiction blog Readergirlz.

Stephanie was born in New York, spent several years in California, and moved to Las Vegas on her own at age fifteen. She lived there for the next ten years, supporting herself while she completed high school and college. Stephanie now lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and children.

Currently Stephanie’s research is focused on literacy instruction for incarcerated and at-risk teens. She also teaches creative writing classes at King County Jail. She encourages her readers to donate used books to jails, prisons, and juvenile correctional facilities. Learn more:

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 25, 2012

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    This was such a realistic and gritty read! I could totally re

    This was such a realistic and gritty read! I could totally relate with Stella, the good girl from rough circumstances who gets drawn into a friendship that is all encompassing and more edgy than she's used to. We read all the time about boyfriends who influence girls' lives and take over the relationship in ways that are not so positive, but in real life, there are girlfriends that can do that too. (This isn't BLGT by the way. I'm down with that, but that's not what I meant so no one gets wrong idea.)
    It is a nice change to have a book that focuses more on friendship and family, because even though Torn does feature a romantic interest, it is not all consuming. Now, don't get me wrong I love a good romance, but sometimes it's nice to have a change of pace. But, anyways, back to Stella. I really admire how loyal she is, and how brave she is--the things that she does for Ruby in the end really are awesome, and I hope my friends would do the same for me if I were in that situation. I also really think highly of Stella in regards to her family. She is responsible, she complements her mom, and she looks out for her siblings. Stella is also stellar in how she deals with her boyfriend--I can't say a whole lot without spoiling, but I appreciate the writer having the guts to go there, and not keep everything peachy and predictable.
    Ruby is well written too, she's wild and appears carefree. And I love how the layers are peeled from her little by little to show what makes her tick and what led her to be like she is. The way that she learned from her past and dealt with the bullying, well, let me just tip my hat.
    Ms. Guerra's writing was solid, and the pace kept me interested the whole time, I didn't want to put it down, and wanted to know what would happen next.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

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    I received this ebook via Net Galley for an honest review. Estel

    I received this ebook via Net Galley for an honest review.
    Estella Chavez is a clean cut girl: straight A student, plays soccer, clean cut boyfriends. She comes from a broken home where her father left due to drug use. Ruby is Stella's opposite: cursing, smoking, cutting school, dating college and older men, wearing high heels, who believes there isn't anything that shouldn't be tried once. Stella suddenly finds herself torn between her new friendship with Ruby and the friends she has known almost all her life. Stella watches Ruby slowly unravel and eventually has to make a decision to interfere, even though it might cost her their friendship.
    When I first started reading the book, I really liked it. It moved well. I quickly became acquainted with Stella and her life, understanding her relationship with her mother, sister, brother and the father who no longer is part of her life. Guerra created realistic characters. Stella being the typical middle of the road high-school girl, while Ruby is that make-up wearing, school cutting, smoking, outcast rocker type.
    When Stella becomes friends with Ruby, she changes. We see her seeking more independence. She tries new things, such as dating a college guy named Mike, and is willing to step outside of her circle of comfort. Stella's friends quickly show their unhappiness with her pulling away, but Stella can't seem to stop herself. We watch her struggle with the push and pull of keeping her old friends while making new ones. We watch her become acquainted with a real relationship and all the turns it might take.
    Ruby is a force that pulls Stella into another world. Some would say she's a bad influence, but really Stella freely makes her own decisions to do those things she has never done before.
    The book is peppered with references to G-d and how Stella's relationship with G-d affects her decisions.
    About half way through the book, the story reaches it's pinnacle and then quickly starts to deflate. The ending is nothing short of boring and unrealistic, in my opinion. Guerra took an otherwise engrossing, contemporary, realistic young adult story and blew it up with conclusion that is disappointing. Guerra leaves us with a completely open ending to a book that has no sequel. There is no resolution to the problems the characters encountered during the story.
    I give this book 3/5 stars. Thank you Net Galley for the chance to read and review this book.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

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    Realistic portrait of a dynamic friendship

    I have been really jonesin’ for some straight-up YA contemporary reads for a long while now, and when I find a gem like TORN that literally speaks to my soul, I cannot help but sing high praises. TORN takes readers on a rocky ride as Stella figures out whether keeping up with Ruby is a good idea – or stop her new wild-and-crazy friend from some very bad decisions. How old is too old as far as boyfriends go? How high is too high to jump for your friends? How close is too close to your family to help out with your younger siblings as your mom works double shifts?

    Senior year has never been more packed full of age-old questions and heart-heavy dilemmas – and I appreciated the end-results that TORN delivered to its readers. Stephanie Guerra created two very interesting characters whose friendship might self-destruct at any given moment, but I could not help but hope that Stella and Ruby would be able to make it out of high school alive and for the better. I do not think I have read a more memorable and well-journeyed account of a senior year. I guarantee TORN will make you wanting a Stella or Ruby in your lives because I am sure that no one should ever go without one who will have your back even if you try to shut them out.

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  • Posted May 19, 2012

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    Stella Chaves lives with her mom and younger sister, as her fath

    Stella Chaves lives with her mom and younger sister, as her father is no longer around due to issues with drugs. Other than that, Stella seems like a pretty typical high school girl even though she seems like she's a little indifferent to it all - she has a small group of pretty good friends, a boyfriend that she gets along with, but isn't totally in love with, and plays soccer for her school. Stella meets the new girl at school, Ruby, and she just sticks out like a sore thumb. She's a little dramatic, wears flouncy outfits and heels to school, dates older guys, and doesn't really care what others think about her. Stella is kind of just simply intrigued with Ruby at first, but then they start to become friends. Stella ditches her old boyfriend and old friends to hang out with Ruby all the time. Ruby gets them involved with dating a couple of college boys. At first it's weird for Stella, but it becomes not such a big deal. Ruby then dates a much, much older man who's interested in participating in some pretty questionable activities. Stella is a little weirded out at first by the much older man in Ruby's life, but then starts to come to terms with it - until she finds out exactly what they've been up to. Stella then has to decide whether or not to help out her friend - since Ruby clearly doesn't want her help at all and helping her just might cause Stella to lose their friendship.

    While I didn't particularly fall in love with the characters in this book and didn't really appreciate the very brief moments of religious undertone (only a scene or two), this story really had me intrigued from start to finish. I couldn't put it down while learning of the characters' backgrounds and approaching the main conflict until after finding out how it all ended. I think the ending could have gone in either direction and still have been realistic, as Ruby's character was really unpredictable and pretty spontaneous. I loved the ending that was chosen though, since it gave the story a good sense of closure. A riveting tough issue/coming of age YA book.

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