Diana Welsch's Reviews > Split

Split by Swati Avasthi
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May 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult
Read from May 03 to 05, 2011

The premise appealed to me when I first saw this, and then a coworker recommended it to me, so I read it.

It's the story of a 16-year old boy named Jace who gets kicked out of the house by his physically and emotionally abusive father. Jace has long been the target of his father's abuse, but perhaps not so much as his mother. Jace drives across the country to his older brother's apartment in Albuquerque, hoping for shelter. He has not seen or heard from his brother (Christian) for 5 or 6 years, when Christian escaped the home with the help of a friend's parents. Christian has completely moved on with his life and refuses to acknowledge his past, in hopes that he won't be defined by it. He is not thrilled to have Jace interrupting his now-relatively-conflict-free life. But he is Jace's only hope.

The good: The plot was really interesting. It was compelling to me personally because of my upbringing, I've had to wonder what makes an abuse victim stay. Why would anyone put up with an abusive partner? How could that possibly be easier than leaving? It seems like a no-brainer but it clearly is not. The book didn't give me an answer to that question, but it did suggest that a more important question is why an abuser abuses. In a sense I felt validated that Jace came to the same unpopular conclusion that I did: sometimes you need to cut your losses and just stop giving a shit about your family members. If they aren't nice to you, find people who will be.

I enjoyed the parts where Jace eavesdropped on his brother and his girlfriend, and was surprised to find that an argument in a non-abusive relationship has a very different dynamic. His picking apart the typical pattern that abusers follow was spot-on. His similarities to his father and terror that he might be an abuser too was a great aspect of the story.

The not-so-good: the characterization was weak. I have noticed that a lot of YA authors will give their teen characters lots of hobbies instead of fully developing their personalities. Jace was unfortunately like this. He plays soccer. He takes photos. He works in a bookstore. He likes Shakespeare. But you don't get a really well-developed sense of him as a real person. The plot was memorable, the characters were unfortunately not.
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