Review: Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner

Recommendations, Review
Image from Goodreads

Title: Can’t Look Away
Author: Donna Cooner
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Publication Date: Jan 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
Can’t Look Away, written in first person, is about a teenager called Torrey who has her own blog on beauty and how to be popular. Following a tragic accident, Torrey has to cope with a new school, boys and popularity.
The main character, Torrey, has to leave her old home and try to start a new life following a terrible accident. At her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Queen Bee Blair and her gang? Or is Blair only being nice because of Torrey’s fame on the Internet?  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 has to really look at her own feelings about death, life and everything in between.
I don’t have a favourite part of the book – I liked most of it. My favourite character was Torrey, the main character, because I felt sympathetic towards her, even though she isn’t real. She made me think of people on Earth who have had to go through the same situations of losing a child.
The parts I didn’t like was when Torrey made decisions that really frustrated me because instead of choosing the easier option, she made decisions that made more questions arise about her past.
I thought Torrey’s cousin and neighbour, Raylene, was a wonderful source of comic relief. She is crazy 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 in his own right. 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 someday take over the family business. Torrey is warned by Blair to keep away from him 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.
The plot was believable and made perfect sense. The author explained things well and didn’t leave me wanting to just put the book down because I was so frustrated about not understanding what was happening. I learnt ways to cope if something bad happened to my family.
The main point of Can’t Look Away was for Torrey to try and cope with the loss of her sister and to get into the popular group at school. The ending wasn’t very predictable, it isn’t until the last few pages where the plot threads all tie together.
I would read another book by this author and I would definitely recommend this to others. I think this book would suit children, especially girls, at the age of 10-15.
I would give this book a 4 out of 5 because I liked the way the book was set out and the tense parts of the book but the way that Torrey speaks or thinks lets us see her side and perception of her sister’s death as half actually mourning and half worrying about how her sister’s death impacts her social status and the way she is talked to or about, on the internet and in her everyday life. Torrey feels guilty of course but does not know how to deal with her emotions. I think the best thing about Can’t Look Away is it’s thought provoking nature surrounding the emotions associated with both grief but also on the need to be popular.

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