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[personal profile] everysecondtuesday
Split is a story of domestic abuse, the cycle of that abuse, and the complexities of escape versus abandonment. It asks hard questions about redemption, about family, about how much is too much, and it provides few, if any, easy answers.

Split begins with Jace Witherspoon showing up unexpectedly at his brother's apartment. He has a little cash, a lot of hurts, and a number of secrets. But the novel isn't solely about Jace. Equally important to the story is his brother, Christian, who fled their father's abuse years ago and is intent on building a safe haven as far away from that as possible. The story revolves around their relationship and navigating the fall-out of abuse.

I had very few gripes with the novel. At first, Mirriam sometimes seemed a little too perfect as a healing influence on Jace, a mother figure stand-in, as though that was going to be her only role. That concern was tempered throughout the novel as she was allowed moments of being selfish, of focusing on herself and what she wanted her relationships to be, in moments of occasional weakness. By the end of the book, she was very much a character allowed depth, breadth, and breath sprinkled in small spaces throughout.

It took me a while to get into the very beginning, but I think if I'd read the summary on the back, I might have been sucked in a little faster, actually knowing somewhat what was going on. After that, the tension of the secrets unspoken combined with the more obvious conflicts kept me engaged and continued to ratchet up, so that I found myself hours later and at three in the morning having finished the entire novel.

Of Swati Avasthi's many writing talents, her ability to write women is my favorite. Yes, I know that Mirriam was one of my few reservations--but she's also my favorite character in the book. The story may revolve around two men, but popping up throughout are a number of excellent female characters, from Dakota, who works at a bookstore and faces Jace down for stealing a queen off the chessboard, to Lauren, Jace's ex-girlfriend who's trying to figure out the right thing and sends the best e-mail subject lines, to Caitlyn, who is much more complicated than the popular girl stereotype she'd like you to believe.

There are a hundred other things I could talk about--the themes and little details and the way she describes running that invokes a visceral longing in me for my cross-country days, the little complications she throws in everywhere it looks simple, cooking lessons and crystal light catchers and Avasthi's ability to make you ache for nearly every character--but we would literally be here all day. It's a short read, but it's densely packed with so much more to catch on each subsequent read.

This is a definite recommendation.

While it's not currently available, it is available for pre-order.

For more reviews (or to see how to get in on this amazing book review action), check out [personal profile] deepad's post here.

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