Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:00 AM
Title: Split 
Author: Swati Avasthi
Published: March 9, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 280
Source: Library
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Sometimes I wonder why words can't actually make us bleed.”
―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. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I have been behind on reviews lately and that is NOT ACCEPTABLE! But don't worry, I'm on it. Sometimes, I read like a woman possessed and forget I'm supposed to actually be reviewing those books...

So, this review was tough to write. I don't know if I can ever fully describe all of the emotions Split made me feel. It was an intense read, and once I started, I couldn't stop. I needed to know what happened next. I tend to stick to the fantasy and paranormal genres because books are my chance to escape from reality. Yes, I might read darker fantasy, but after I finish that Stephen King book, I realize that none of these supernatural creatures exist outside of my imagination. Hopefully, that is. But the demons that haunt Jace Witherspoon are all too real. Yet while Split was a painful, emotional read, it was also a touching tale of two brothers rediscovering what it means to be family, and I thought it was brilliantly done.

Split explores the aftermath of domestic violence. Jace has finally escaped his abusive father and has driven across country to arrive on his brother's doorstop. But it has been years since Christian and Jace have seen each other. Ever since Christian made a break for it years ago, the two brothers haven't so much as written to each other. Christian has made a life for himself; he has a girlfriend, an apartment and his dreams of a medical career. He is trying to move on when Jace turns up out of the blue, a painful reminder of what Christian has been running from. Tensions are high right from the start, as the two brothers struggle to reconnect.

Split is very much a character-driven novel. This book explores the psychological repercussions of being raised in a violent household. While their physical wounds have healed, both Jace and Christian carry scars that are invisible to the eye. I really sympathized with Jace. I can hardly imagine such a traumatic childhood when I was raised in a loving home. Sure, I have tiffs with my parents, we all do, but none of my problems can even compare to what Jace has endured. Yet despite his father's abuse, Jace cannot help but love him. He's the only father he's even known, and that leaves him feeling more conflicted than ever. Jace wants to hate his father, but he does have some fond memories of him. He still has trouble understanding how his father can switch from loving father to abuser, from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.

Jace is not just leaving his violent father behind; he's also trying to run from himself. Jace is terrified that he will turn into his father. He worries that he will make the same mistakes his father made, and this tortures him. What I loved about Split is that not even the victims are entirely innocent. Both Christian and Jace are wracked with guilt for entirely different reasons. Christian regrets leaving behind his brother to suffer in his place, and Jace is desperately trying to control his anger issues so that he does not follow in his father's footsteps. These characters were far from perfect, but that just made Split all the more realistic. I mean, how can anyone grow up in a dysfunctional family and not suffer emotionally?

My favorite part of Split was watching the brothers slowly restore their trust in each other. Christian and Jace have forgotten what it means to be brothers, but as Split progresses, they learn to confide in and support each other. They become a family, and that was touching to witness. Jace learns from Christian that you can argue without your fists. He also realizes that you can walk away when angry. Up until that point, Jace believed that physical confrontation was inevitable. But Christian shows him how to control his emotions, and it changes everything for Jace.

There are some painful scenes in Split, but that was far from surprising. Christian and Jace may want to reconnect, but it isn't always easy. I may not always like these characters, and I may not always understand their actions, but I always sympathized with their plight. They make mistakes, but they learn from them. As for the ending, it wasn't entirely to my satisfaction, but it was believable. And it was fitting for such a dark tale, and, sadly, domestic abuse cases rarely end happily ever after in real life.

I knew what I was getting into when I picked up Split, but this book still carried quite an emotional punch. Split was a gripping, shocking tale of human suffering and conflict, but it was also a heart-warming, poignant tale of two brothers rediscovering a bond they once shared and cherished. I can guarantee I will remember this book for a long time.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Courtney! It was a true emotional punch and just so beautifully written, mending the relationship between the brothers so realistically. I really cannot WAIT to see what Avasthi writes next - although my heart and eyes are worried! ;)

    1. same here! I am anxious to read more by her in the future! cannot wait! and yes, this was truly a tear-jerker. Intense but lovely all at the same time.

  2. I've heard really good things about this book and now your review has reminded me I want to read this, I love intense books.

    And I am so the same, I don't want to stop and review a book, I just want to move on to the next!

    Also, thanks for having us on your blogroll, I'll add you to ours!

    1. Wow thanks! :D and you really should check it out when you get the chance! if you are a fan of intense books, Split is definitely for you.

  3. I also like the escapism that fantasy/paranormal can provide. I tend to think of it more as using another context to examine the same sorts of issues, however. And, in a way, is that really all that different from books like Split? At the end of the day, this is still a fictional story. Chances are you don't know anyone in a similar situation. But perhaps the probability of it being possible makes us react stronger to these types of novels? Just wondering out loud here. I love the idea of a book that focuses on the strength in a relationship between brothers, and I'm glad you were able to get what you expected out of it. :)

    1. I think it's the stronger possibility of this happening in real life that makes me react differently than I would to a fantasy novel. Yet even when I read books about serial killers and death, I'm not as affected as I think I will be. Maybe, I've been desensitized to some crueler aspects of reality. It seems that domestic violence, animal abuse and rape are more upsetting to me, for some reason. The mind is an enigma. And I definitely think Split stands out more because it focuses on the relationship between the two brothers and the aftermath while so many books already focus on the violence when it occurs. I'm glad too. :D I love trying out books and finding that I love them as much as I expected to.

  4. I think I've seen this cover around, but I had never read the blurb or read any reviews. I'm glad I got the chance to now! I love that this focuses on a sibling relationship primarily, and that their feelings for each other grow over time in a realistic way. TOTALLY my favorite kind of book.

    1. I know! I need realistic characters or the story just falls flat for me. But these two brothers were really damaged and needed to work towards being brothers again. It was touching to witness how they regained their trust in one another.

  5. Oh my goodness I NEED TO READ Split! I bought it after Keertana reviewed it but just never got around to reading it because I am the worst at reading things that I purchase. Based on the emotions that Split seems to bring and it's depiction of DV, I think I'd really be into it. Great review!

    1. Thanks April! I'm the same way. I buy things but don't read them for the longest time. Keertana's review encouraged me to check it out too! Her reviews are very persuasive. :D I hope you get to read it soon!


Courtney Reads A Lot loves comments a lot! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Copyright © 2014 Courtney Reads A Lot
Template and Design by New Chapter Designs