by Swati Avasthi
Book of the Month for June =)
I read a really fantastic review at Inkcrush which convinced me to pick this one up. I've seen it around but I'm glad I finally got a chance to just sit down and read it.
Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.
He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.
At least so far.
Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.
My Expectations: Pretty high, but not too high. I thought it would be good.
Delivery: WOAH. A beautiful, memorable story full of brilliant characters.
Put-down-ability: I stayed up till 3:30AM finishing this, it's so engrossing. 2/10
There’s usually two reactions I get after finishing a book. One is me racing off to write a review, eager to share my thoughts and put my opinions into words. The other is sitting back and thinking “how am I supposed to review this? How am I supposed to be putting what I’m thinking into words?” Split definitely belonged in the latter category.
Starting with one of the most captivating first chapters I’ve read in a long time, Split is narrated by Jace Witherspoon who has just been kicked out of his abusive home. Driving all the way to New Mexico in hopes of finding safety with his brother he hasn’t seen in years, Jace embarks on a journey of self-discovery, growth and redemption.
Man, I fell in love with the characters in Avasthi’s book. It’s incredible how defined and full they were, they had flaws, quirks, and a whole lot of heart. Jace and his brother Christian have solidified themselves on my “best brothers” list and reminds me why I love books about family so much.
Because Split is ultimately a book about family. It’s about the broken homes and broken hearts that splits young souls and traps old souls, it’s about the families that are there for you and the families that are not. It’s about mothers, fathers, and brothers, and it’s about the complex, imperfect, interwoven relationships between people tied together by blood. And this novel really hit it on the head with rich themes and even richer development. Ace.
The writing style was another huge bonus for me because it took me no time to sink comfortably into Jace’s mind. Told from a refreshingly smooth first person POV, the narration was engaging and authentic. Plus he plays soccer and jogs! Wow, characters who have hobbies surprise me every now and then. I loved this aspect of the book because as an athlete, I’m surprised by the lack of sports in books I read. I thought the romance was weak at first, but when I learned the underlying reasons for his actions, it felt much more real.
The plot itself was good, but ultimately it was the characters that carried the story. Jace’s fear of becoming his father and the strain it put on his actions, along with the burning desire to redeem himself after a disgusting act made him an incredibly sympathetic character. I don’t want to delve too much into domestic abuse despite it playing a huge role in the book—you should just read it for yourself. I thought it was very well done.
I thought the minor things (such as the chess queens, turkey dinner, photography, etc) tied together a story that could have gotten carried away as an ‘issue/abuse’ book. While pacing could have been a bit sharper (for example, sometimes I felt that too much was happening at once while at other times, weeks went by in sentences) but overall, Split was a beautiful book with brilliant characters.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: ALL YA Contemp fans, people who think books about brothers are the best.
8.9/10 – because it was SO GOOD. I can’t gush enough about the strongly realized characters and the heartwrenching familial relationships. Everything was just a pleasure to read: the writing, the plot, the great development of characters. Highly, highly recommended!!
author website / blog / twitter
Winner of the 2010 Cybil Awards- YA