Split by Swati Avasthi

From the eBook editionSplit by Swati Avasthi
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House

High school student Jace Witherspoon has just been kicked out of his home in Chicago by his abusive father. Scared and lonely, he goes to Albuquerque to stay with his brother Christian whom he hasn’t seen in six years. Although Christian has been hiding from their father all that time, he reluctantly lets Jace in and they attempt to rebuild their relationship. Their mother, also a victim of their father’s abuse, has promised to run away herself and join them for Thanksgiving, and while Jace believes that she will do this, Christian is a little more skeptical. While the two brothers work on becoming a family again, Jace has to work through his own issues – turns out he learned well from his father, and lashed out at his own girlfriend before coming to New Mexico.

Split is an emotionally charged novel, almost difficult to read in the way that most important novels are. The situation Jace escaped from with his father is terrifying but unfortunately to many families it is reality, and I felt that Avasthi depicted life in an abusive household with brilliant honesty. Jace and Christian both have bruised and battered souls, as a result of their father’s treatment of them over the years, and they both have to work though a lot of emotional pain and issues in order to become a family again. The fact that they watched their mother be beaten all those years adds more pain too – they both have feelings of guilt and shame at the fact that they could not protect her, and also feelings of anger towards her for never leaving their father. Avasthi did an excellent job illustrating the complex dynamics of an abusive home with this novel.

What makes Split so interesting is the dynamics of the bothers attempting to rebuild their bond. Their personalities are so opposite – Christian is standoffish and quiet, slow to emotions and doesn’t let anyone into the emotional walls he uses to protect himself, while Jace is emotional, more open with his feelings (good and bad), and outwardly craving a relationship with his brother. Plus, Christian is harboring feelings of guilt for leaving Jace behind for the last six years while Jace (rightfully so) feels that Christian abandoned him to take on all their father’s blows. The fact that Jace is hiding the fact that he hit his own girlfriend makes their relationship really strained, as the reader knows there’s this big secret but Christian does not. When it finally comes out, things get… interesting.

I read Split as an audiobook, and it was really fantastic. The narrator, Joshua Swanson, was very effective at channeling the emotional nature of Jace’s character. He communicated the story so well, I was certainly hooked! I would definitely recommend the audio version of Split.

While Split isn’t the easiest novel to read in terms of the subject matter, it is a quick read and one that you won’t soon forget. The characters are compelling, the story is one that needs to be told, and Avasthi’s writing brings everything together perfectly. If you can handle a story about child/spousal abuse, Split is an absolute must.


13 thoughts on “Split by Swati Avasthi”

  1. I like how the book depicts the different ways the boys have been affected by and how they cope with the abuse in their home. Sounds like a powerful and important read!

    1. Yes – that was one of my favorite things about it. Every child who is in this unfortunate situation turns into a different adult, and copes with the abuse differently and Avasthi really showed that well.

  2. I have this on the TBR shelves, but I haven’t picked it up yet for whatever reason. I do remember being really excited by it when I first heard about it…

  3. This does sound like a really powerful and emotion-laden book, and it’s one that I have not heard much about. I am going to have to give it a try, as the story sounds too interesting to pass up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it with us!

  4. i just read this a book in Split by swati avasthi was very book but it was seems like…for the teenagers only and not legal adults should read this books. Even young adults and teenagers alike.

  5. the book is about a teenage runaway who escaped his abusive father fists in search of his brother after they found each other they work together in order to save their mother

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