It is once again my privilege to introduce to you, and hopefully to entice you, to read a book by Emlyn Chand. Emlyn has been an especially good blog friend of mine, almost from the beginning of my blogging “career.” She wants me to assure you, however, that my personal relationship with Ms. Chand does in no way affect the content of this review. I respect her talents far too much ever to do what is, in my mind, an injustice to the whole concept of Emlyn’s venture, “Novel Publicity.” For more information on this wonderful organization, which does its best to highlight the work of authors both experienced or brand new to the “biz,” please visit the Novel Publicity website and read more about it here.
The name of Emlyn’s newest book is “Torn Together.” The title alone is enough to
draw almost anyone in – at least long enough to read the flyleaf (or whatever passes for one in the e-book trade!). Reading the synopsis is then more than enough of an invitation to get a cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa, and find yourself a nice comfortable place to sit down, relax and get to know some wonderful people: Daly (sounds like tally), Laine, Meghann, Kashi, and a host of Kashi’s family in India.
Each of the characters that populate this book, (Emlyn’s first venture up and away from the Young Adult genre into standard Adult Fiction), is someone you feel you either know or at least know of. Each has their share of grief and joy, although the shares are not equal, and each deals with the twists and turns of their lives in a different manner. “Torn Together” is the story of how the lives of the characters have been torn apart, more or less left to ravel, and how such apparent ruin can be and is mended – not back to what it was, but refashioned into a new and less fragile, reinforced whole.
Daly English is a talented, but floundering 20-year-old artist, who lives with her mother, Laine, a dedicated and capable social worker. We meet the two of them several years after the death of Oliver, Daly’s idolized father and Laine’s beloved husband. Despite the fact that a significant amount of time has passed since Oliver’s tragic death from cancer, neither Daly nor Laine has managed to dig themselves out of the grave they dug for themselves to isolate them from the world in which they once lived together as a happy family.
An angry Daly has no room in her heart for her mother’s heartache – that heartache made manifest in her emotional abandonment of Daly, and the constant reading and re-reading of her collection of books. For Laine the books help her immerse herself back into the world she once had but lost when Oliver died. Daly was her “Daddy’s girl,” and in her grief she is either unable or unwilling to recognize her mother’s need for solace or comfort. As the years pass, the fabric of their lives is gradually torn apart, as individuals and as mother and daughter.
Daly keeps herself busy with sketching, painting, and various visual arts. She wants very much to attend art school, but another point of contention with her mother is that since she sees art as a frivolous pursuit, she will not pay for Daly’s tuition to art school. If Daly wishes to attend, she must produce a portfolio worthy of a scholarship. Laine expresses little interest in Daly’s art and tries to convince Daly to attend school with an aim to a more useful line of work, such as nursing or social work. Laine herself is a social worker who works primarily with unwed mothers and other women in crisis. While Oliver and Laine raised Daly as an activist for social justice, Daly has no interest in making activism her sole way of life.
Much of the book is written from Daly’s point of view. One of the very few criticisms I have of this book is that Laine, and the reasons for the estrangement from her daughter is kept a mystery until over half of the book has been read. Ms. Chand does, however, introduce us to Laine through the eyes of the pregnant, very young teenager Meghann, who, as one of Laine’s clients, has attached herself to Laine as a loving mother figure. We begin to see the relationship between Daly and her mother through Meghann’s perceptive and somewhat precocious eyes.
The themes of fate and destiny are woven into Daly’s life by a “chance” meeting with Akash Malhotra, known as “Kashi,” a kind, mysterious, and handsome pharmacist from India with whom Daly falls in love. Kashi believes in fate, and will not begin a relationship with Daly unless it is meant to be – meaning they must “run into each other” three times before he will consider their relationship one that is supposed to be.
Meghann is a survivor, or of the type of personality that sociologists refer to as “invulnerable.” She is from an affluent family, and their social prestige is more important to them than their daughter’s welfare and what to them is the embarrassing predicament of their 8th-grade daughter’s pregnancy. Because her parents are angry, and wanting little or nothing to do with her, Meghann seeks out and finds help and support at the crisis center where Laine works, and the work of mending is begun.
Daly and Kashi have their third chance meeting, and that begins the relationship that blooms into love, and leads her and Kashi on a trip to Kashi’s native home in New Delhi. The Indian tradition of marriages prearranged by the parents is a stumbling block on the journey to a new and happy life for Daly and Kashi. A great deal of hurt and alienation – further rending of their lives – takes place before the difficult job of repairs and reparation can begin. Learning how the story ends is your task – should you choose to accept it. I sincerely hope that you will.
Ms. Chand’s writing improves with every book and she has far exceeded my expectations in this, her first novel for adults. However, I believe that I can also recommend this book to young adults. While there are some sex scenes that are a necessary (and not gratuitous) part of the book’s story-line, “Torn Together” could definitely be part of an older teen’s reading repertoire.
“Torn Together” is a story of people’s lives that are torn apart at the same time, but for different reasons and in different ways. But ultimately, the heart of the book, indeed, its charm, comes in learning how those lives are mended: not by stitching them all together into one unit, but by showing the reader that repairing the individual in the manner each one needs makes each one whole, unto themselves, and once again able to live a complete life, independent and together.
My wish for you all, my Gentle Readers, is to get a copy of “Torn Together” read it, and then let me know your thoughts. And above all, I wish for each of you enough. . .
About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!
About the book: Life, love, and an unforgettable trip to India–readers call “Torn Together” an emotional roller coaster ride. What’s all the fuss about? Grab your mother, daughter, sister, or closest friend, and get reading. Make sure to keep a box of Kleenex handy! Get Torn Together through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo Books.
About the author: Emlyn Chand emerged from the womb with a fountain pen clutched in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity. Best known for her Young Adult novels, she is also developing a small, but devoted, following to her children’s book series and is beginning to dabble in other genres as well. Emlyn enjoys connecting with readers and is available via almost every social media site in existence. Visit EmlynChand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky! Connect with Emlyn on her website, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.
About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Torn Together! Here’s what you need to do…
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest
- Leave a comment on my blog.
That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked above at #1, or on the official Torn Together tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!