Book Review: Split by Swati Avasthi
Title: Split (GoodReads)
Author: Swati Avasthi
Page Count: 280
Genre: Contemporary YA
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. Award-winning 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?
This book was hard to read for several reasons. Of course, those reasons were also what make it great.
I didn’t like Jace. He was obnoxious and just seemed to cause trouble wherever he went. I hated how he treated Dakota, and I hated that he didn’t seem to hate this father as much as I did. I hated the violence. I hated that Jace and Christian had such a hard time talking to each other. I hate that Jace blew Mirriam off most of the time even though she was only trying to help him. I hated their mother for staying with their father all this time.
Of course, like I said, all of that is also why I loved this novel. It’s realistic. The characters seem like real people. They don’t do anything because it’s good for the story, or because it would be the easy thing to do, or the right thing. They’re scared and hurt. They make stupid decisions. I understand why Jace doesn’t want to date Dakota, but I also understand why he can’t just let her go. I understand why he and Christian have trouble communicating. I can understand why Mirriam’s concern might be annoying at first.
I still don’t really understand Jace’s relationship with his father, not once we learn more about what his father has done. But I guess that’s sort of the point, as well. Most of us just assume that if we had an abusive parent, we would hate that parent. Or at least I assume that. This book shows why it’s more complicated than that.
This book has great dynamic characters, and the writing is fantastic. I’m glad I read it. There is one scene, though, where the violence might be a bit much for those who are particularly squeamish. Just a heads up.