Torn to Pieces

Torn to Pieces

by Margot McDonnell

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SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD ANNE ALWAYS thought her mother was kind of quirky. In fact, her mom’s taste in 70s-esque furniture and mysterious frequent business trips were just the tip of the quirky iceberg. When her
mom doesn’t come home on time from one of her long jaunts, Anne isn’t too surprised. But when a day late turns into a few days late, Anne knows something is very wrong.

She tries the hotel number that her mother left her, but it has been disconnected. Then a strange man keeps leaving messages on their answering machine, looking for a woman who doesn’t even live there. However, when Anne discovers a lengthy letter from her mother explaining why she has disappeared, the fabric of Anne’s relatively normal life is torn to pieces. Despite her shock, Anne must pull herself together and protect herself—from people who want to find and hurt her mother, and the strange new boy who may change everything.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375891113
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/09/2008
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 351 KB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Margot McDonnell spends her days reading, writing, traveling, quilting, and enjoying her family and friends. Torn to Pieces is her second novel. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona

Read an Excerpt


On the far side of Midland Park, which overlooks a field of cornstalk stubble half buried in snow, I lean against a boulder. Its edges jab my back. I wonder if I've misplaced my brain--no, whether I've ever had one.
How could I have been so stupid?
I take the letter from my jacket pocket. It feels crisp in the dark, a little warm from my body. I can't see it. Don't need to. My mind zigzags through every line like a crazy freeway driver.
This is my first letter. Ever. On paper, that is. Everyone e-mails or text messages. Even my grandma Mim, who has no idea how to turn on a computer or cell phone, knows that. But this letter, the one that changes everything? I'm not ready for it.
The wind comes up. I shiver.

Then . . .
Like the far-off rumble of a train before the whistle sounds, a little crack in the wall of my memory threatens to break wide open. I see an image of a snake. Car headlights. A man's creepy face. The words "You'll be sorry, bitch!"
As fast as one picture flies into my mind, I push it away. Take a deep breath.
What do they mean, these fragments that flash too close and terrify me?
I look up. Watch the moon come out from behind thick clouds. Unfolding the letter from my mother, I flip on my pen flashlight. I've read only half of it so far. But I start over again. It can't be true.
Can it?

Believe me, Anne. I never meant to hurt you. You have to understand that before you read on. . . .
"Mom," I whisper, drawing my fingers over each side of the smooth white pages that feel like shark's teeth, "where are you?"


Two months earlier my life in Centerville had been normal. For me, that is. School, band, best friend, mother, grandparents, black and white cat. Our home, an old two-story of gray stone with a guest cottage, sat back from the road, hidden behind an orchard of crab apple trees. It had probably been an awesome house at one time, but before Mom bought it, no one had lived in it for years.
I tried to talk her out of moving to Centerville. About as pointless as attempting to slow down a tornado. We had already left three cities before that. Every new place was the same: alien faces and classrooms. Lunch alone. Eventually I'd find a friend or two. Then Mom would fold up the tent, and away we'd all go again.
To add to the misery, I was short and fat, freckled, redheaded, and disturbingly shy. Gramps entertained me by teaching me card games and every song he knew. We played chess. After a while I won a few matches. He called me Champ after that.
Sometimes I sat on the porch swing and practiced Beastie Boy, my silver baritone with the dent in the side, until my lips swelled and went numb. Or until Zorro, my cat, started yowling.
Sometimes I read.
Or waited for Mom.
Who was always, always gone.
For the first three years in Centerville, Mim--real name Miriam--and Gramps stayed in the guest cottage but took care of me in the stone house while Mom traveled. But they had always wanted a place of their own. So when I turned fifteen, they bought themselves a small home a block away with pale green siding and black shutters. Gramps grew tomatoes in the back. Mim made raspberry and blackberry jam from the bushes that lined one side of their lot.
The inside I'd describe as having a gray-blue theme with lots and lots of doilies, flowered pillows, curtains. The kitchen, though, had bright yellow wallpaper full of arrogant red and green roosters.

Some say Centerville is the kind of quiet rural town people dream of moving to. Peaceful compared to the city's noisy traffic and living practically on top of your neighbors. Worrying about crime, too. Centerville. Comfortable and familiar, like recognizing almost everyone in town.
Other things make it nice. Enormous trees touching branches over rows of streets that spread out straight and flat as a graph-paper grid. Quiet summer nights except for the sound of crickets. Breezes bringing in the sweet smell of mown hay--a little manure along with it, but you get used to that--weirder yet, even like it sometimes. One mile in any direction and you're on a dirt road pulling up to a barn. To the south, you can sit on the edge of Lake Willow and watch long-legged birds wade in the rushes. To the north is the Centerville mall.
I didn't consciously see the town as this idyllic little refuge from the city. Only a place that I had finally come to think of as my real home.
In Centerville, shopkeepers on Main Street called customers by their first names. Homeowners left their doors unlocked. Everyone trusted each other. That is, except my mother. One of the first things she did when we moved into the stone house was to install an elaborate alarm system.
That should have been the first clue.
But I was only twelve and just a lonely kid in a strange new place.
Until the autumn I turned seventeen, I didn't realize nightmares can visit small towns and the people who live there.
People like me.

I did find a friend. You know how it is. Sometimes people click. Her name was Bianca Colon, Co-lone, not the intestinal pronunciation, she was quick to point out. From day one in seventh grade when Bianca, big-boned, skinny, frizzy-haired, said hi with her wider-than-wide grin, she and I clicked. My best friend forever.
Maybe I had come from the city. But I caught on early that new kids in a small town like Centerville stuck out (like me). Some fit in right away. Some didn't (like me). The new and uncool--translation: 1. uncute, 2. unathletic, 3. untrendy, 4. unoutgoing--faded into the cornfields fast. Guess that happens everywhere. Except for the cornfields part.

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Torn to Pieces 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Anne is a 17-year-old girl who lives with her quirky mother. Ever since Anne was little, she and her mother (and her grandparents) would move around every once in a while. Anne's mom is a writer so she does a lot of traveling, and Anne is by herself. She often stays with her grandparents just down the street, because it's creepy being alone in that big house. Anne has always found her mother to be a bit strange by the furniture that she buys and the long business trips that she takes. But her mother has always been a stable figure, and Anne hasn't minded her mother's long trips because she always comes back and is always there for her. But when her mother misses Anne's birthday, she knows that something is up. Not once has her mother ever missed her birthday, no matter what. Immediately, Anne starts to investigate, starting off with asking her grandparents questions. When that doesn't work so well she starts to dig further. Who knows what she may find out... This book was so addicting. I read it in two days. It really was a page-turner. It seemed kind of like a mystery to me. I had to keep guessing what was going to happen. Anne was such a determined character. She would stop at nothing to find out what was going on with her mother and I loved that about her. The secondary characters were pretty awesome, as well. All in all, TORN TO PIECES was just a really good book. The writing was great and the suspense was awesome. I'd check this one out if you're in for some mystery and suspense.
Mrs.May on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anne has always thought her Mom is a little quirky. When her Mom doesn¿t come home from one of her long business trips Anne isn¿t too surprised. When a few days go by, though Anne knows something is wrong. The phone is disconnected at the hotel her Mother said she would be staying at and a strange man is leaving threatening messages on her answering machine. Why has her Mother always been so mysterious about where she is going ? Why has she never gotten a cell phone so Anne can reach her? Anne¿s ¿grandparents¿ share her concern and give her a sealed envelope from her Mother that reveals all her Mom¿s secrets - secrets that put Anne in great danger and reveal that nothing is as it seems.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Som one share it with me plz
brittany400 More than 1 year ago
This book is very good and when i say good i mean on that top shelf good. Anne, the main character is a typical teen . When i say that i mean that she is curious, outspoken, and goes throw these twists and turns with her mom. listen, i not going to give you too much but this book is a good read.especially in the summer. it have suspense, action,love... now, what more do you want. JUST READ THE DANG BOOK.
Jasmine01 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book!!! It has enough mystery, drama, romance, and much more to keep you plenty satisfied. I absoulouty love evan and Anna . And I think basically anybody could read this book because it is that amazing. It's so good that I could read it more than once
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SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
Wow, did this book have one too many twists and turns. Once you think you have an idea on what will happen, something happens in the story to make you question further on what's going on and want to read further into the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
carwash39 More than 1 year ago
you just have to read it
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Gretchen63 More than 1 year ago
Torn to Pieces,Nov. 1, 2008
By Gretchen Weicker (Texas)

Anne, the central character, is not a pious twit, but a resourceful and honest young woman with a solid and believable ethical system. She does struggle with deciding how to do what's right. She also becomes aware of how the decisions of others, especially loving parents and grandparents, can have dramatic consequences. Thus, her kindness to Evan the homeless boy, for example, becomes an extension of her core beliefs. The mysterious events of the plot keep the reader engrossed. The intriguing evidence alternates between a hidden letter and Anne's first person narrative.

Torn to Pieces is an excellent young adult novel because of its character development and plot. Courageous convictions about right and wrong are noteworthy within the world of American adolescents. I can personally attest to this fact since launching my own high school teaching career in 1968. Even as a young girl myself, I loved books that affirmed my better instincts. The same is still true for young people today. Anne speaks with the authentic voice of a young person who must reassemble her life after it has been "torn to pieces."