Book Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

SPLIT by Swati Avasthi
Publication Date: March 9th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Summary: 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.

Review Overview:

  • Impossible to put down
  • A bit graphic, but these details were completely necessary
  • Provides insight into child abuse/family violence

In SPLIT, author Swati Avasthi welcomes readers to the real world of child abuse and family violence. Avasthi has written a unique novel about what happens to a child’s life after years of abuse, while also interweaving scenes detailing the before. 

After a particularly bad fight with his father, Jace Witherspoon is kicked out of his parents’ house with nothing but spare change, his camera, and car. He tries to convince his mother to leave with him, but she declines and gives him an envelope with money and his older brother’s address. She promises to go to him as soon as she can. It is this promise that Jace clings to for the entirety of the novel. However, just as he is about to drive off, his father imparts a final threat, “Come back, and I’ll kill her” (23).

Jace is nervous to show up at his brother’s, Christian’s, apartment after all these years. He is hurt that his brother hasn’t bothered to check up on him since Christian ran away and worried that he won’t take him in.  Thankfully, he does. While trying not to completely impose on Christian’s life, Jace settles into a routine: school, soccer, work, home. However, this routine is shaky at best due to Christian’s interfering girlfriend, Mirriam, who has both of the boys’ best interests at heart. As the brothers struggle to move on with their lives, they realize they cannot do so without settling their uncertain relationships with their mother. Thus, they go back to Chicago to convince her to escape their father’s unyielding hold.

SPLIT is filled with characters so real and flawed that they came alive in each page. My favorite characters were:

Jace: a lovable asshole since he can’t help but lead girls on but actually tries to prevent himself from physically hurting them

Christian: a quirky, funny guy that genuinely loves his brother

Mirriam: an intrusive, but wise woman in her 20’s that wants the boys to seek the help they deserve

These characters, along with many others in the novel, have secrets and flaws that contribute to the gripping quality of SPLIT. I don’t want to give any of their secrets away, but I will include two of my favorite quotes:

“We all screw up. We all wish we were stronger than we are, and not one of us will get through this life without regret.” – Jace

“I curl my fingers into a fist and grip hard. I pull back and slam my fist into his eye. And it is satisfying. A roller-coaster rush. God help me.” – Jace

I recommend SPLIT to everyone! I didn’t expect to learn anything from it, but I surprisingly did. I hope this novel raises awareness to family abuse and the effects it has on every person involved. Finally, Avasthi is definitely one of my new favorite authors. Her talent for writing is reminiscent of John Green and David Levithan, both of whom are fantastic. What are you waiting for? Start reading SPLIT right now!


    1. Aw! I’m sensitive too, but it was so difficult to put the book down. Maybe it’ll help you overcome it? :P Thanks!

    2. You should definitely give this one a chance! I just read it as well and it really wasn’t all that bad. (Want to Go Private was definitely scarier! :P)

  1. I just got the audiobook version of this because Josh Swanson is an amazing narrator and I wanted to listen to him, but your review confirms that I HAVE to listen to this ASAP!!!

Leave a Reply