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Split by Swati Avasthi
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The sad tale of domestic abuse is told in this dramatic story of two brothers, who have been mercilessly beaten by their father over a period of years, trying to come to grips with their past so they can have a future. Along the way, they need to learn how to forgive their mother who has endured her own share of abuse for 25 years, and accept that she needs to make her own decisions about her future. ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
I was expecting to enjoy this story very much, mainly because of all the awards it has won. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

While the plot was strong (with a few unbelievable details, granted), there were a few things about this book which put me off. The first is that Jace doesn't come across as a young man to me; he comes across as a 30 year old woman:

'I look into Christian's blue eyes. He's leaning forward, his hands together, watching me.' (These guys are brothers, not lovers ffs.)

'I look at the bare yellow walls; they are nothing but potential.' (He says, with a penchant for home decorating)

He drinks coffee like a thirty year old executive. Where I come from, sixteen year old boys are drinking coke, not coffee. Maybe it's an American thing.

Also, what sort of judge calls his kid 'Jace'? Where I come from, judges call their kids 'Victor' or 'Hugo' or 'Charles'. I could almost believe the mother chose it, since she was reportedly from a lower class background, but I can't believe that woman got any say in anything.

Plus I didn't even like Jace. I can't warm to thieves. I can sympathise to a point with a kid who has anger management issues and bashes his girlfriend, but I can't empathise with a thief when he's had no modelling for that.

I'm reading a lot of reviews which praise the writing, but I'm not a fan. First, I think you have to have a very strong voice to pull off first person present narration, otherwise that choice can make it seem like you're making up for lack of original voice in your own right, almost like forcing immediacy on the reader.

Also, after a while the descriptions of body language in between the dialogue really began to irritate me. I just wanted conversations to be conversations, without that writerly way of breaking up chunks of dialogue with beats:

(from p134)

...interior monologue...

He picks up a piece of gravel and throws it. He collects a handful of pebbles and starts tossing them over the edge one by one.

talk talk...

His mouth turns down.

talk talk...

He looks down at the rock floor and then tosses another pebble over.

talk talk...

He stands up, and this time looks after the pebble as he drops it.

talk talk

He snorts. I collect my own handful of gravel, scooping out the broken bits from a divot in the rock floor. I stand up next to him and watch the balloons.

talk talk...

I talk a breath and then go ahead and...

(You get the picture.)

Also, you can only get away with 'He glances at me aslant' once per novel.

This is the second YA novel I've read recently in which 16 year olds come across as 23 year old men. The other was The Secret Year, in which the sixteen year old narrator has been having sex with girls for years, not months:

"Did I tell you about the game?" I'm suddenly a tongue-tied geeky thirteen-year-old who is asking a girl out for the first time.

Hell, has Jace been honing his wayz-wid-da-wimmen since he was 13? Really?

I feel so old. And inexperienced. ( )
  LynleyS | Feb 8, 2014 |
I've never read a book quite like this one, it was strangely different, in a good way. It kept me reading, because the plot was exciting and well thought out, it could have been executed better though. ( )
  Victoria22 | May 5, 2013 |
I cried. Wow, this was good. ( )
  GinnyTea | Mar 31, 2013 |


[b:Split|6270483|Split|Swati Avasthi|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320410460s/6270483.jpg|6453798] was somewhere between 4 and 5 stars for me, so I'll go with 4.5 because I can't make my mind up. I spent most of the novel thinking I would give it 5 stars, but there was something a little unresolved for me. Okay, a lot unresolved, but DO NOT read this if you haven't read the book: I wanted their mother to find a way out, I understood that this book's message is that it's not as simple as that, I understand why she struggled to leave him, how her life had been shaped around her husband and their violent existence... but I wanted the final message to be that it was possible, even though it was difficult. I didn't like how the ending seemed to be an acceptance that some people are just doomed to stay with their violent partner for the rest of their life. But, apart from the stuff in that very spoilery spoiler, this was an unbelievably powerful novel. It does what so many other books have tried to do but the writing, the characters, the emotions running wild in this book... they all contributed to make it stand out amongst stacks of stories about domestic violence.

The story opens where Jace Witherspoon has finally left home, his mother, and his abusive father behind. He wants to start a new life with his older brother - Christian - who ran away years before and hopes his mother will eventually break away and join them. But Christian's life is very different now and he is reluctant to ever go back to the way things were before, not to mention the fact that Jace isn't being entirely honest, a lot has happened since Christian left and he isn't too eager to share a lot of it. Can Jace and Christian build a new life as brothers and put their violent upbringing behind them? Or will Jace's secrets bring the past crashing down onto the two of them?

What [a:Swati Avasthi|2851248|Swati Avasthi|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] has here that gave her the ability to write such a stand-out novel, is years of experience dealing with just these kind of people, relationships and abusive partners/parents. It shows, it really does. A lot of authors try to answer that question: why does an abuse victim still stay with their partner? Most of them fail because it's not a simplistic answer, you need to take a deep look into these relationships, see how the victims become psychologically changed to believe that they somehow deserve it, that they cannot cope with any other way of living, that the good times are worth the bad. I don't pretend to be an expert on domestic violence, but I knew someone who was in this kind of relationship and people always say "I just don't understand why they don't leave", "it's pretty simple, if someone hurts you, they don't love you, so you walk out the door". I've seen it first-hand and what they don't know is that the victims are being damaged far more psychologically than they are physically. You cannot tell someone to snap out of a mental disorder, and it is a very similar kind of thing. The routine of violence becomes so embedded into them that they start to just accept it. It's sad but true and [a:Swati Avasthi|2851248|Swati Avasthi|http://www.goodreads.com/images/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66.jpg] is one of very few authors who shows this.

But this isn't just a novel about domestic violence. It's a novel about how people can change their lives for the better, how with work you can choose to move on from your past and re-create yourself, how you do not have to let the bad stuff that has happened define you. It's about fear. Fear of another person, fear for another person, fear of yourself and who you might be turning into, fear of making the people around you just as screwed up as you are.

Moving and unforgettable.
( )
  emleemay | Mar 30, 2013 |
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This book is dedicated to my parents, Pushpa and Pratap S. Avasthi. All my life, they've given me seeds, water, and sunshine. Then they waited patiently to see what I might grow.
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Now I have to start lying.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375863400, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A teenaged boy thrown out of his house by his abusive father goes to live with his older brother, who ran away from home years ago to escape the abuse.

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