Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooper

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?

Description taken from Netgalley.com. I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way impacts this review of the book. These opinions are my own. 

Expected publication date: August 26th, 2014

There were so many times where I wanted to give up on this book. So many times. Mostly it had to do with Torrey. It’s hard to list out all the things I hate about Torrey, but I’ll give it a shot.

Her mourning of her sister’s death. The way that Torrey is written, I see her side and perception of her sister’s death as half actually mourning her and half worrying about how her sister’s death impacts her social status and the way she is perceived on the internet and in her everyday life. There are countless times where she says things or thinks things that make me think the only reason why she’s sad is because everyone is bashing her, but I can’t deny the times when she brings out her sister’s things in the middle of the night and thinks about her and blames herself. I still couldn’t truly believe Torrey’s mourning of her sister.

Luis and the popularity issue. It’s apparent right away that Torrey is overly concerned with popularity and status, wealth and fashion. These are all things I dislike about her. I hate the way that she has common sense, because she can see that Blair and the other social queens are shallow, self-centered jerks, but she still hangs out with them because she loves the popularity. Which brings me to Miranda’s death.

When I finally got to see the argument that killed Miranda, I hated Torrey more than ever–because in that moment, you can see exactly how selfish and mean Torrey is. Torrey told Miranda that she needs to grow up after dragging her out to the mall to get her to shoot some video for Torrey’s next vlog, but Miranda refused and walked away. Miranda isn’t the one who needs to grow up. It’s Torrey.

Then we get to Luis. Torrey doesn’t deserve Luis at all. Luis is a great guy with an awesome family. I like the support he offers Torrey, but I dislike them as a couple. She doesn’t deserve Raylene either, who is kind, smart and spontaneous–someone who’s character is much better than Blair’s, but of course Torrey is embarrassed to hang around her.

Towards the end, Torrey makes some terrible decisions that really show off how much she doesn’t deserve Luis, because she never learns.

So why did I finish this book, do you ask? Because even though I hate so many things about Torrey, she’s still real. She isn’t the epitome of everything I hate in a person. She’s just trying to live and I do enjoy her personality day to day. That isn’t just it though. I wanted to see growth. From the beginning of the book, Torrey tells the reader that she’s dreading the victim statement at the court hearing where her sister’s killer (and everyone else) will get to hear how his actions have impacted their family. Torrey was the one who was supposed to make this statement.

For me, I had hoped that the victim statement would be Torrey’s redemption in my eyes. It would be the great tear-jerker where it’s apparent just how much she’s grown as a person and in her life. But no, she doesn’t even make a comment. Her mom provides a short, meaningless victim statement and they leave. What makes it worse is that the end of this book leaves unfinished endings. What happened finally between Torrey and her old friends? Will she ever move back home? What happened with the vlog? And many more questions.

When it comes to the general plot of this book, everything is laid out well. I enjoyed the writing and seeing flashbacks and quotes from Torrey, though the flashbacks seemed a little overdone. Overall, if you can stand Torrey–this is a good read. I liked the unique quality to it all and I liked the way Torrey finally came to terms with her sister’s death, as well as reconciled with her mom, but I felt things weren’t tied up well enough and I wanted much more from Torrey. 2 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 272

 

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