Disclaimer: I received an e-galley provided by Scholastic from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions.
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Published: August 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner tells the story of Torrey Grey and the death of her sister. Torrey is Internet famous by posting videos on fashion. She displays her hauls and gives advice on her own YouTube channel. Her life gets turned upside the day her sister is killed by a drunk driver. Her family picks up and moves from Colorado to Texas and all Torrey wants to do is fit in. She struggles with her desire to be popular and the draw to hang out with her strange new friends that aren’t a part of the popular group. While learning about who she is, Torrey can’t help but think of the person who her little sister will never become.
Beware of slight spoilers (about overarching plot)
I don’t know if I’m just too old for this book or if I just didn’t like it. I think this is a good story for a young teen (12-15) to read but not for someone who is about to graduate college (unless you plan on spending lots of time with younger teens). I think the conclusion of the novel, when Torrey finally realizes that it’s okay not be popular, is a bit simple. But as I said, maybe it would have had a bigger impact on a younger reader.
This novel is a realistic portrayal of loss and even of the effects of fame (and internet trolls). I wish there was more written about Torrey’s best friend from Colorado, Zoe. From what I read, I couldn’t understand why they were even friends.
Overall, it was an interesting read. I liked the quotes by Torrey that were taken from her vlog. They were at the beginning of each chapter. However, I was unsure how they were said in her fashion vlog. They seemed a little out of place. I did like the inclusion of Dia de los Muertos. I thought that was a good way for Torrey to meet a boy and understand her feelings about her sister’s death. Though, the things she says when she’s placing the items at the gravestone are a tad cliche. She also thinks it was weird that she was collecting items of her sister’s. It’s not weird. It’s grief. The characters were mostly well-rounded and interesting to interact with. I just wish there was a slightly different storyline that didn’t have to do with popularity. I would have liked to see Torrey interact more with her cousin and her love interest without feeling embarrassed that she was doing something wrong. I would honestly read more about Torrey if she wasn’t always worried about not being popular. Popularity is overrated.