Thursday, September 16, 2010


SplitSplit by Swati Avasthi
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
ISBN: 9780375863400
288 pages
4.5 out of 5

Sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother, Christian, with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father's first), $3.84, and a secret.

He tried 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 is still trapped with his dad.  And his ex-girlfriend is keeping his secret--for now.

Turns out there are some things you can't just walk away from.

Swati Avasthi gives us a riveting portrait of what happens after.  After you've said enough, after you've made the split--how do you begin to live again?  Readers won't be able to put this page-turner down.

This book had me from the first line, "Now I have to start lying."  Going into a novel cold and catching that line is as close to magic as you can get.

Jace has lived his entire life in a home where his father took out his aggression on his wife, on his oldest son, then finally his youngest.  But this is not the story you'll be reading.  As the description says, this is a novel about what happens after. Usually when someone finds a way out, that's the end, but this novel reveals that there is so much more.  Even Christian, who escaped years before, continues to struggle with his former life. 

Jace's voice is honest and open. The greatest part of this perspective is that it allows the reader to know not only what he does and says, but what he thinks and feels.  This, to me, is one of the most important aspects of this novel.  It's clear that his experiences forced him to grow up too soon, but it's also clear that he's still just a kid trying to figure it all out. 

Split takes a serious look at what it's like to be trapped by domestic violence even after you've escaped.  I highly recommend it.

Split is the second novel I've read for the Debut Author Challenge.
A "booktalk" version of this review will appear on my library's website.  I can't help but share great books!

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