Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Split 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 Review:

Split is an amazing story that captures so many emotions in such an amazing way.  It is the kind of book that you never want to put down until you've reached the final page.  The characters in it are well written, and the plot makes the book a compelling page-turner.


Jace is an extremely complex protagonist who is portrayed with depth.  It is clear that it his character has many shades of gray.  He is not written as completely good or bad.  At first, it seems like Jace is only the victim since he's been abused by his father many times before getting kicked out of his house.  But, then, later, as more things are revealed, you find out that he's done something bad in his past too, something he feels very bad about since he doesn't want to become like his father.  In his new home with Christian, he's trying to get to know his brother again, trying to come to terms with what happened between him and his ex-girlfriend, making friends with another girl, and trying to make plans for his mom to come to escape from his dad.

The relationship between brothers, Christian and Jace, is well-developed.  In many ways, Jace is a reminder to Christian of the past that he wants to forget.  That is probably a large part of the reason that Christian seemed reluctant to welcome Jace into his home at first.  He had made a new life for himself, and his brother dredged up old memories.  At first, the two boys were very closed off to each other their experiences due to some ground rules laid down by Christian.  These rules kept them from having real, meaningful conversations about their pasts for a while.  As the story progressed, they begin to open up to each other.

There are the stories between Jace and two girls that are interesting.  There's Dakota, the new girl that he meets at the bookstore.  He gets a job at the bookstore, and it soon is obvious that they both like each other.  He tells her he doesn't want to date her, though, because of what he did to his ex-girlfriend, Lauren.  When he and Lauren were dating, they had an on and off relationship.  One time, Lauren slept with Jace's friend, and Jace got very mad about it.  When he got mad, he became like his father for a minute, and he hit Lauren.  Afterward, he felt awful about it.  He wanted to tell Dakota about what happened with Lauren before she decided to date him, so he eventually told her.

The abusive relationship in this book is portrayed well.  I did not like Jace's father at all since he did some truly terrible things.  The scene with Jace's parents, and a hammer and nail, was awful to read.  The book shows how hard it is for the mom to just leave the dad, while also showing how she really needs to leave him.


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