Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner, published by Electric Monkey on 1st January 2015
There's no hiding in the spotlight. Torrey Grey is famous - at least, she is on the internet. Thousands of people watch her beauty vlog for tips on how to be popular and pretty. But when Torrey's sister is killed in an accident her world implodes, especially as she feels partly to blame. And that's when the trolling starts...How can Torrey mourn her sister in private, when her bubbly public persona is all over the web? Then she meets Luis, whose family owns the local funeral home, and he challenges all that Torrey thought she knew about love, life, and loss.
This is the second book by Donna Cooner, following on from last year’s debut ‘Skinny’. I wasn’t a huge fan of the latter but I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed ‘Can’t Look Away’ a lot more.
The story centres around teenager Torrey, known as Beautystar215 – a popular vlogger for beauty and fashion news, who is used to living out her highs on peoples’ computer screens. After her younger sister is killed in an accident, she and her parents move to a new town for a fresh start. Although she no longer has to face her old friends, she does have to face the online comments that she just can’t run from.
Dealing with themes of bereavement and loss, plus the grief of having to go on living without someone you love, this book packs an emotional punch. It’s hard to imagine life after the loss of a sibling and I thought Donna Cooner did an excellent job of portraying Torrey’s feelings and emotions and her struggle to make sense of her relationship with her sister. Torrey and her parents relationship has also been fractured by events, but I enjoyed seeing them gradually start to come together and live again.
Torrey begins to make new friends in her town and local boy Luis becomes a key figure in helping her to learn about death and the on-going struggle of living with loss. Torrey and Luis’s friendship was one of my favourite things about the book. They at first appear to be complete opposites but they are brought together by a common bond and eventually learn a lot from each other.
The book also contains an important message about appreciating your real, rather than your virtual life, as well as the people you have around you on a day to day basis. Torrey spent so much time online that she seemed to have forgotten about everything else around her but this is something that is put into perspective by events in the story.
I really enjoyed ‘Can’t Look Away’ and I would recommend it if you are looking for an emotional and moving teen read. In my opinion, it is Donna Conner's best book so far.