by Amber Lehman


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Torn by Amber Lehman

It was different this time; we weren't acting on a dare. I knew our motive; we were practicing the act, hoping to impress the right boy when it came time. But then something happened—in the mix of the moment, in the mix of the alcohol. It wasn't planned, but somehow our kissing experiment turned into something else. Things went further . . . and once they had, once I returned to earth from the euphoria . . . I wrestled with my feelings at that frank realization, questioning whether our said objective was entirely true.

When fourteen-year old Krista McKinley transfers from Catholic school in Ohio to California's public Crestmount High, she discovers she has a lot to learn. Luckily, she is befriended by Carrie and Brandon and things start to look up. But when a simple dare tests Krista's values, it sends her entire world spiraling into a confusing series of events that leaves her questioning her identity as well as the people around her.

With unshakeable frankness, Amber Lehman paints a memorable portrait of what it's like to be a questioning youth in today's world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979593369
Publisher: Chrysalis Press
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Pages: 404
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Marilyn Jaye Lewis

If a bisexual coming-of-age novel like Torn had been written when I was coming of age in the mid-1970s, it would have gone a long way toward helping me feel sane. In fact, if I could have read this book when I was 14 (the age at which we meet the book s protagonist, Krista McKinley), I probably would have become addicted to this book and carried it with me wherever I went; bisexuals let alone teenaged bisexuals get very few reliable toeholds in our society even today. Torn is a brave and memorable achievement in teen fiction. It is unflinching in its accurate depiction of the curious lust for experience that is basically synonymous with being a teenager. The characters delve into drugs, drinking, and sex just as zealously and carelessly as teenagers do in real life, and they careen into the wall of consequences just as hard. Krista and her friends Carrie, Brandon, Ryan, Nick, and Aeleise (in varying combinations throughout the book) have access to plenty of booze when they want it; they try cocaine and ecstasy; they play football, they re cheerleaders, they attend the homecoming dance as well as bible study groups; some are victims of incest and rape, while others carefully choose when they will lose their virginity and to whom; they have co-ed sleepovers where they kiss and sometimes have sex with each other; they shop a lot and, since this is Southern California, they also go surfing. However, when the characters err in judgment, they get caught and are forced to examine their actions along with their motivations and must somehow make amends. Perhaps most importantly, Torn tackles that complicated identity question of am I bisexual, or [gay or lesbian], or just experimenting? with a huge heart and an honest appraisal, and best yet for bisexuals the answer resounds with hope for teenagers who find themselves genuinely attracted to both sexes. The characters in Torn may seem torrid on the surface, yet Lehman has crafted her characters with such kindness and with such attention to realistic detail that they are easy to become addicted to, even as an adult reader. These are insecure gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters who are fiercely devoted to each other, who hold one another accountable for everything. The few parents depicted in Torn are rich, ineffectual and self-involved. The other parents are curiously absent, with two families being overseen by older brothers. This helps create a world where the teenagers take center stage and are forced to look out for one another. The older brothers (Krista s brother Marc, a doctor; and Aeleise s brother Daemon, a pilot, a devout Christian and a thirty-year-old virgin) are so well-grounded in morals and discipline that they wind up being more effective and more respected than most real-life parents. My one complaint about Torn is that it is too long. The attention paid to the details of what everyone is wearing, eating, or drinking frequently adds too much clutter to the story. Otherwise, Torn is a page-turner whose ending might possibly astound you. This is a terrific first novel that deserves an open-minded read. You ll make fast friends with the teenagers in this book and if you re already an adult you ll perhaps find yourself feeling friendlier toward the questioning teenager you once were. --(Marilyn Jaye Lewis)

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Torn 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
jillina More than 1 year ago
I am not a great lover of reading so a book really has got to hold my attention and "Torn" certainly did. I loved the characters and couldn't put the book down. I would say this was a must read for parents and grandparents or anyone who works with young teens. This may be a book of fiction but in today's society it's probably closer to the real word than must would like to believe. I appreciate the author's honesty in dealing with what some would say is a touchy subject matter but I would rather know what my teen may be facing everyday than ignore the consequences. Torn - I hope is just the first from Ms. Lehman.
writeawaybliss More than 1 year ago
Torn is a Young Adult Contemporary story, told in the first-person by fourteen year old, Krista. Thrown into a new school and with new friends, she finds herself mixed up very quickly in a world of sex, drugs and lots of questions about her own identity. Amber Lehman's writing is clear and easy to read but with some heavy subject matter, making Torn appropriate for ages 17 and up. With topics of rape, incest, sexual abuse, statutory rape, drug use and sex - one wonders what wasn't touched on in Torn. What I liked: The cover art. It's spot on with contemporary and will appeal to young adults. Well written, the plot moved along, easy to follow, with appropriate dialogue for teenagers. I felt like as I was reading Torn, I was there with Krista. Some of the story seemed over the top with Brandon's frivolous spending but we did see a glimpse into his background and where the money ultimately comes from. In the end, this is a book that will definitely make you think. There's a lot of subject matters - some taboo - that are addressed in Torn. Don't expect to finish the book and then not be thinking about it afterwards. What I didn't connect with: I would have liked to have seen more consistency with the characters and with the story. There were several plots that seemed to drop away at the end of a chapter and those items were never discussed again. A simple sentence or two, to remind us they hadn't been forgotten would have been sufficient for the reader. I was disappointed to read that every character that finds themselves questioning their sexuality, in the end decides that going for the opposite sex is what they're truly after. Krista's best friend from the beginning, Brandon, is gay. He's accepted he's gay, he's out, and then by the end of the book he's decided that he's bisexual instead. I had trouble grasping this dramatic change from the character. I felt like he was a well-written and three dimensional character but his actions in the final chapter didn't fit for me. The adults in the novel frustrated me, especially Daemon. I don't care if a guy is a twenty-eight year old virgin. At no point, should he have let Krista on top of him. In fact, the moment he realized she had a crush on him, he should have been able to deal with the discussion and put an end to it.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Molly E. for Readers Favorite Amber Lehman's debut YA novel, TORN, is a well written novel, and one that I am happy to have had the chance to read. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. It's one that will leave Ms. Lehman's readers thinking long after they have read the last word. Written to be a young adult novel about choices and how they affect lives, this is easily read as an adult novel. My heart really went out to Krista. In this day and age, it's hard to fit in. Especially when the reason for fitting in has to do with your choice of sexuality. During an alcohol induced experiment to catch the eye of a guy, Krista finds herself wondering if she really knows what, or WHO, she wants. She sees her best friend, Carrie, in a whole new light after that experiment. Then, along comes Brandon, Krista's new gay friend from school. He too has life figured out, knowing what he wants in life. Until Krista asks him for a favor. That favor could change their lives FOREVER. This is the first gay YA novel I've ever read. I must say that it is truly a wonderfully written novel that hits home with today's struggles and issues among teens in public schools. It is very captivating and grip you from the first page to the last word. I would recommend this to everyone who loves a book filled with wonderfully created characters and true-to-life situations. Well done, Ms. Lehman!
Sara-T More than 1 year ago
There's nothing like a coming of age novel to remind me how great it is to be past high school! Amber Lehman's first novel, a 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award winner, tells the story of a Krista a young girl who struggles with her sexuality and fitting in after moving from Ohio to Southern California. While the book focuses on Krista, there are plenty of characters you'll be glad to have met. I was especially intrigued by Brandon, a gay teen who seems to have everything figured out until it's very obvious that he doesn't. Having spent the previous years in an all-girl school, Krista has a lot of adjusting to do as she enters the madhouse of a public school. And just when she gets used to having boys around, she finds herself wondering just what kind of feelings she has for her new best friend Carrie. I've read a lot of gay YA fiction, and thought this one tackles bisexuality quite well. In the end, this is just a story about kids trying to find their way in the world - something we can all related to. Lehman does a good job of touching on a number of issues while keeping the story moving. I kept reading because I found myself invested in what happens to these kids and hope you will too. LGBT kids often can turn to their parents or other adults in their lives when questioning their sexuality, so it's important to have books like this that may help them realize they aren't all alone. This is a fun read and a good look into the trials and tribulations of today's teenagers. While there is a lot of talk about experimenting with sex and sexuality and drugs, it would be naïve to think this book is "too explicit" for most high school kids.
TerryMarcovich More than 1 year ago
It's not easy being a teen and having to fend for yourself without any parental supervision, but in Amber Lehman's, Torn, we find out exactly what that's like for 14-year old Krista. With her mom gone on a church mission for a year, she is placed in the care of her older brother, Marc who does his best to oversee both Krista and her other older sibling, Josh. But with a job of his own Marc can't be all places at all times. This allows Krista and her best friend Carrie-and soon to be her love interest-get away with more than they should. Soon she is introduced to Carrie's friend, Brandon, and the three form a tight bond. It is only later that Krista learns that Brandon is gay. Coming to California's public school from an all-girl's Catholic school in Ohio, this stuns Krista a bit. But she is able to accept Brandon nonetheless. Everything seems all right until a dare on Homecoming night shakes up Krista's morals. She is dared to kiss Carrie and in doing so this brings out unexpected feelings for Krista as they begin to practice for boys. This is Krista's first experience with kissing and probably adds to her confusion. Krista, uncertain with this situation, decides that she wants to experiment with a boy. Even though there's Ryan-Brandon's straight best friend-the only boy close enough to her that she trusts is Brandon. So she approaches him for her experiment. What follows is a tangled mess that neither had prepared for. Since Brandon is seeing Nick, she diverts her attention to her friend Aeleise's brother, Daemon-their bible study group leader. The only problem with this is that he is twice Krista's age. She goes out of her way to dress up for him, do anything to grab his attention, and one day takes it too far by pushing their sexual boundaries altogether. This has to be confusing to a 14 year-old with no one to turn to except judging friends. Torn has a lot of racy material in it, but it isn't written without reason. There is experimentation with drugs, sex, a rape occurs, there is discussion about safe sex, STD's and so on. Lehman tackles a lot of tricky subjects with candor and care as she sees these teens through their journey. Her writing style was easy to read and it was a book that was hard to put down. After I finished it I loaned it to a friend to read. I would definitely recommend it to others whether they're gay, straight or bisexual.
Jonathon-Kron More than 1 year ago
I was a little taken aback when I opened the box which contained "Torn." The first thing I saw was a sticker saying "Winner, Next Generation Indie Book Awards" and then I saw that the book was over 400 pages long. I figured I was in for some long dull reading.but was I wrong. From the time I read "A Note from the Author" and saw the words "If I had been successful in this task, I have created a place in which hearing these stories is as intimate and personal, as confusing and saddening, as the moments when these stories were first shared with me." I was hooked. And author Amber Lehman didn't fail. Krista is fourteen and new to Southern California, having moved from Ohio.a completely different world. From the time she stepped out of Our Holy Sisters private school and into Crestmount, her new public school in California things were extremely complicated for her.from the clothes she would have to wear to the fact that boys now were on campus. Not to mention, here she was a fourteen year old trying to find her place in the world without the constant supervision of a mom. Krista was being watched by her older brother while she was away on business. Being the new kid in school isn't easy, (is anything when you're a teenager?) Luckily Krista meets Carrie, who soon becomes her best friend. Carrie introduces her to Brandon, a dreamboat who all the girls adore, but does he feel the same? Along the way Krista also befriends Nick, Aeleise and Ryan. These friends, especially Carrie, Brandon and Krista, are typical teenagers. Or are they? Growing up is hard trying to figure out who and what you are. Throughout "Torn" the characters each take turns at figuring out their place in this world. We find out that Brandon is gay, but accepted by those who know-Carrie and Krista would never tell. Brandon acts as though he likes girls, even takes Krista to the Homecoming dance. That's where things started to get confusing for Krista. Brandon and Krista, along with Carrie and Ryan decide to leave the dance early and end up drinking on the outskirts of town and to liven the evening up play an innocent game of 'Truth or Dare.' When she is dared to kiss Carrie, Krista not only does it, but finds out she likes it. It makes her feel things she never had before. As challenging as growing up is, when you don't know your place it is even harder. These friends all experiment with drinking, drugs and sex as most adolescents do. Carrie and Krista think they like each other in ways neither ever thought about before meeting. Brandon, although swayed by the local boys, also agrees to be Krista's first sexual encounter.and boy, that kind of stirs the pot. Krista believes she is falling in love with Daemon, the older brother of Aeleise and a Bible fanatic. "Torn" examines all these situations and reads like a dairy that Krista would write. It was an easy read, in fact a page turner. (The 400+ pages flipped very quickly) The experiences these friends share are unique, but are things that many teenagers will relate to. The underlying messages are that friends are there for you, even when you think they aren't, that whatever we experience as we grow up will affect us in some way, and that people can, and will, change. In the words of Amber Lehman, "The world is a difficult place for children. Thank God we turn out as well as we do." I recommend this book to anyone-early teens, so that they realize they are not alone in their search for self-discovery. To males and femal
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
14-year-old Krista is in for some major changes. After attending a private Catholic school in Ohio, her family moves to sunny California, and Krista is thrust into the completely foreign world of public education. These kids are very different from her. They all dress well, drive fancy cars, and act much older than they appear to be. It is all a little overwhelming to Krista - especially since she comes from a rather religious family. Her parents are usually away on some type of mission trip, helping to build a church or handing out Bibles to those who can't afford them. Krista is eventually befriended by two teens, Cassie and Brandon. They take her under their collective wing and begin to show her the ropes. Krista begins to open herself to new ideas and experiences. She is starting to discover her own identity, and the process is frightening yet exhilarating at the same time. Krista's world is different now, but she doesn't want to lose the values that she was brought up with. Her dilemma is finding a balance between her new life and the one that she left behind. TORN is definitely a coming-of-age novel. All of the characters are searching for their niche in the world. There are all forms of experimentation in this novel, including sex, drugs, and alcohol. Some of the content may be a little mature for younger readers, so tread carefully if you decide to pick this one up.
Billy15 More than 1 year ago
Being gay myself, I was interested in reading this book even though the storyline revolved around a 14 year old girl. I had read many reviews. Most that had mentioned her friend Brandon as being the most dynamic character. I would have to say that this is true. I was moved by and cared deeply about what happened to Brandon throughout the book. Although it is true that the love interest is between the two girls-Krista and Carrie-there was also a relationship between Brandon and Nick. Brandon is beautiful, sexually experienced at 16, and is extremely wealthy and popular at his school. While he is 'out' to many of his closest friends, not everyone at his school knows and so he tries to keep up a front with the girls for the sake of his professional surfing reputation. This has to be extremely difficult and trying to do. He is also a bit cocky and extremely intelligent. He was unlike any cliché I had ever read about. I can see how his emotions- and even perhaps his shift in feelings- veered toward Krista after their night together. But I would be lying if I didn't say I would've preferred him to staying with Nick. But at least his decision is well explained.
GABixlerReviews More than 1 year ago
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). 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!
Crystal01 More than 1 year ago
In Amber Lehman's Torn, 14 year-old Krista McKinley struggles to find herself after moving from an all girl's school in Ohio, to a public school in California. When she first arrives she has no friends, but she soon makes friends with Carrie who introduces her to Brandon. The three form a close friendship in no time and everything seems fine . . . until a game of truth or dare changes everything between Carrie and Krista. For the first time Krista questions her feelings for Carrie on a deeper level. Are they more than friends? Is this a passing phase? Brandon is a good friend to Krista and helps her sort out her confused feelings. Although Brandon is gay, Krista comes up with an idea to help her sort out her confusion. But will her idea lead to more confusion for everyone? And then there is her Bible study group leader who is nearly twice as old as Krista that she is infatuated with. How far will she push the boundaries between them, and will she ultimately destroy their friendship? Krista struggles and experiments with a lot if "firsts" here. We see her peer pressured into the use of drugs, trying to figure out what her sexual orientation is, and see her fall again and again as she learns what boundaries are acceptable. Torn takes a realistic look into the lives of teenagers today and what they face. And it isn't always pretty. I found Torn to be an enjoyable and fast read. The situations are action packed and leave you wanting to turn the pages. I love to read young adult novels although I'm well above the young adult age, and I'm sure I'll re-read this one again someday.
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Chris_Phillips More than 1 year ago
Torn by Amber Lehman ISBN 978-0-9795933-6-9 Review by Chris Phillips Lehman has written a very good coming-of-age book. She confronts issues both common to teenagers and uncommon. As the publicity said, Gay and Lesbian issues are core to the plot and handled openly and honestly throughout. Krista is the main character. The story begins with her moving to Southern California from Ohio, going from a parochial school to a public one and her mother going on a mission trip all at the same time. Even though she has no friends when the book begins, she quickly finds some in Carrie, Ryan and Brandon. The tale continues through her sophomore year and the situations she through the school year. From these four and a few others the plot and character develop, particularly Krista, thoroughly, believably, and consistently. There are concrete and common problems of teen years, but also coping with gender and orientation issues. There is sexually active and gay, Brandon, who is the bright and beautiful Southern California prep. Ryan is the boyfriend that seems perpetually frustrated and inept. Carrie is the best friend and also becomes a love interest for Krista. The plot mechanism is Krista adjusting and settling into the new school and the new neighborhood. Her brothers are older and involved in their own lives but keep up with what she is doing. There are other friends and people that show up in the plot. There is sufficient variety to give a good balance and yet keep the plot moving. Issues covered in the book about sexual orientation are seeking definition for same-sex relationship and hetero-relationships. Krista's questions and discoveries keep the reader involved. Doubts and fears come for Krista, but she finds out that her friends and her own upbringing serve her well. The Gay and Lesbian issue hinted at on the teasers is definitely part of the plot and issues dealt with in this book, but it seems that there is nothing new for persons who actually are Gay or Lesbian or dealing with the identity issues of such. In fact the biggest disappointment is that Krista does the ultimate hetero fantasy and converts a gay guy to bi-sexuality. This is definitely not guide to coping with that, but more of a romantic depiction from a 16-year-old's perspective. With the publicity and the back cover there should be more depth to the situation. The final resolution left this reviewer disappointed. The story is directed at this very specific audience and those concerned with teenagers in this age group, but do not expect any major revelations nor earth shattering truths to be revealed. Gays and lesbians, GLBT community members all will have to look elsewhere for a banner novel helping to deal with teenagers coming to grips with their sexuality and sexual orientation. This should be read for the balanced perspective and acceptance of the characters to GLBT issues, but not as a how-to manual nor as a lesson guide for practical solutions. It is a good romance and should be viewed as such. This is one book that can be read and passed on to someone else that might enjoy it. Published by Closet Case Press, PO Box 12961, Newport Beach, CA 92658 ( (SRP $15.00/Amazon $15.00) Review copy sent by author.
DonG10 More than 1 year ago
Torn, a new book by Amber Lehman is a complex story that sheds light on the angst and joy that is common in the life of modern teens. A story that could have degenerated into a simple expose of modern teen morals, it is told with honesty and feeling. I was taken aback at first by the young age of the lead character until I realized that this is a modern teen's life. As modern society has evolved, we have made our children grow up faster than at any time in history, and then we decry their lack of innocence. Ms Lehman, embraces what it means to be a young teen age woman in our modern society and," Tells it like it is". I found myself caring deeply about these characters and the many different lifestyles they embody. Their story is the story of the modern teen and the world as they live in it. I highly recommend this as a book that will shed light into what it means to be a young person in America today, and the choices we require them to make earlier in life than ever before.