Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner
Published by Scholastic on August 26, 2014
Buy on Amazon
Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey's sister is killed in an accident -- maybe because of Torrey and her videos -- Torrey's perfect world implodes.
Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn't know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey's internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there's Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?
Can’t Look Away, Donna Cooner’s sophomore novel, shows promise for her as a writer. I found it to be an extremely quick read that captivated me from start to finish.
Torrey’s story was one that is very relevant to todays teens. Torry has a great online presence through her Youtube beauty channel as well as Facebook and Twitter. When her sister is hit and killed by a drunk driver, Torrey’s personal life takes center stage and she’s forced to take a step back from the internet to evaluate her life and where she goes from there.
Surprisingly, very little of the story centers on Torrey’s online life. After the accident, Torrey takes some time to reevaluate things and she’s not sure how to approach her fans online. However, that doesn’t stop her from reading articles about herself as well as looking at comments on her old videos or on blogs. Many people online blame Torrey for her sister’s death and very few of the comments are supportive. Add to that that Torrey has just moved across the country, started at a new school, and has to deal with some rather bitchy popular girls and she really doesn’t have a lot of joy in her life.
What joy she does have comes in the form of some unexpected friends. Torrey’s cousin and neighbor, Raylene, is a wonderful source of comic relief. She is completely quirky and 100% okay with who she is. She cares very little for popularity and she doesn’t let people hurt her feelings. She does what she wants and she encourages Torrey to do the same thing. Raylene’s cat, Stu, is pretty much another character. Stu cracked me up. There was also Luis who was not exactly who Torrey needed to be hanging out with to gain popularity. He works at his family’s mortuary and he plans to one day take over the family business. Torrey is warned off him from the start but for some reason she just can’t resist him. Luis is another person who does what he wants. He’s smart, funny, and kind but he does have a bit of a mystery to him. He brought out the darker side of Torrey but he helped her a lot with her sister’s death.
Torrey herself was not the greatest character for most of the book. She was rather shallow and kind of self-centered. However, it’s easy to forgive those things about her once you understand what she is going through. What comes across as self-centered at first actually makes sense the more you get to know Torrey. She’s hurt by her sister’s death and her parents have done very little to help with the grieving process. She closes herself off from people so she doesn’t have to deal with her emotions. It was heartbreaking how she blamed herself for her sister’s death. They fought a lot (like any siblings at that age) but they never got the chance to make up and grow closer. That hurt Torrey a lot more than she let on and she really was a much deeper character than I originally perceived.
My favorite part of Can’t Look Away had to be all the history and stuff surrounding el Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. When Torrey first finds out about the Day of the Dead she’s a little creeped out by it but as she learns more about it’s history and it’s purpose she becomes intrigued by it. I’ve always been interested in the Day of the Dead and finding out more about it’s background definitely kept me reading.
Overall, Can’t Look Away has its flaws but is all around a great contemporary novel. I’m definitely planning on checking out Donna Cooner’s debut novel, Skinny.
What others are saying about Can’t Look Away:
Rather Be Reading YA’s review: “Can’t Look Away is fairly predictable in its storyline, but the Youtube angle, the character of Luis and,Día de los Muertos give it a little more of an unusual feel.”
Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “Can’t Look Away was a decent YA contemporary novel that I tackled an issue that I didn’t know much about.”
Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “Torrey’s story will keep turning you pages.”
About the author:
Donna Cooner was born and raised in Texas. She is a three time graduate of Texas A&M University. A former teacher and school administrator, she now teaches teachers and principals at Colorado State University where she is the director of the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her two labs and a cat named Stu. She’s a big fan of chocolate and laughing (not necessarily in that order).
Donna is the author of over twenty picture books and was a founding member of the Brazos Valley Society of Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators. She has also written children’s television shows for PBS and textbooks for future teachers. SKINNY is her debut novel for young adults.
To contact Donna try:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
5 winners will receive finished copies of Can’t Look Away! US only!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out the rest of the tour stops!
8/18/2014- Such a Novel Idea– Interview
8/19/2014- A Book and a Latte– Guest Post
8/20/2014- The Book Belles– Review
8/21/2014- BookHounds YA– Interview
8/22/2014-Fictitious Delicious– Review
8/25/2014- Shayna Varadeaux Books & Reviews– Review
8/26/2014- The Cover Contessa – Guest Post
8/27/2014-Katie’s Book Blog- Review
8/28/2014- Swoony Boys Podcast– Review
8/29/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview