Afghanistan. In the heat and dust, young British army medic Elinor Nielson watches an Afghan girl walk into a hail of bullets. But when she runs to help, Ellie finds her gone. Who is she? And what's happened to her? What Ellie discovers makes her question everything she believes in, even her feelings for the American lieutenant who takes her side.
War is one of those awful things in life that no one wants to have be part of or stuck in the middle of but when you've been trained and sent off to fight in a war then you have to deal with the horrors that no one should have to witness. Elinor Nielson is a British medic that is stationed in Afghanistan after the last medic left and she is very much a girl stuck amongst the lads. There are other female soldiers but she's an outsider and is trying to fit into their set up without causing too much trouble for herself and the regiment. Sent on a mission along with American soldiers Ellie finds herself bonding with one of the lieutenants and yet also drawn to find answers for the mission they've been dispatched to investigate. It's more than her heart at stake but the lives of other soldiers and the Afghan civilians and children she bonds with as she understands why she's there.
David Massey has written Torn as a wonderful salute to those in the military and the harshness of war from all points of view. It's not just the lives of those fighting at risk but those left behind still fighting, the loved ones back home and the people caught between the cross fire much like Husna, the young boy who's been forced to use guns to defend himself against anyone, friend or foe.
I found Torn to be brutally honest in so many ways that it was hard to tear myself away from the book. I was reading while I should have been working and sneaking it into the bath room at work to read just a few more pages. It never felt like Massey was taking sides with either the troops or the civilians but merely painting a picture of what war does to people. It brings them together and tears them apart at the same time. I think that is the real beauty in the book; it never felt like I was being preached to but just shown that war basically sucks and there are no winners in the end just various degrees of victims. All the soldiers from Heidi, the senior officer with a grudge, to Chip and Gizmo that are almost like big brothers to Ellie are all individual characters you want to know more about and see what really makes them tick. There's stories in all of them but we are just seeing into this small moment of their lives.
Plus major hats off and delighted grins from this blogger because Torn references My Chemical Romance (my favourite band ever) not once but twice in the book. That probably won't convince you all to read it but you really should. That was just a happy bonus for myself.
Published by Chicken House and is available here and book shops now