Mar 22

The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry | Book Review (New Release)

The-Love-That-Split-The-World-by-Emily-HenryThis book is a very difficult one to summarize, or even box into one genre, but I am going to try.  My first instinct is to slot it as YA contemporary, but there is also some fantasy/ alternate reality, a little time-travel – so you see, it is a mixed bag of sorts.

The plot revolves around Natalie, a girl of Native American origin, adopted into an all white family. She lives in a small town in Kentucky with her parents, and two younger siblings (who are biological kids of her adoptive parents), and the book is set in the summer after she graduates high school, and is all set to go to an ivy league college.

So far it sounds like a typical coming of age story, right? Well, it’s not. Mostly because, ever since Natalie was a small girl, she had these ‘visitations’ in her bedroom at night from an old woman she decided to call – ‘Grandmother’, who told her Native American folktales, and urged her to internalize them.

The people around Natalie feel that she is suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), which makes her hallucinate, but Natalie is convinced that Grandmother is very real.

Anyway, she goes to therapy, and stops seeing these ‘apparitions’ for many years, until one day when Grandmother appears again, and says – “Natalie – You’ve got three months to save him”. That’s it. She does not mention who is to be saved, from what, or even how. The only clue given is that Natalie will find her answers in the folktales that she has been told all her life.

Soon after this warning, Natalie starts seeing a boy around her town whom she has never seen before, and to quote the blurb – she also starts seeing the ‘wrong things’ – her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a preschool where the garden store should be. That is when she realizes that something is terribly wrong. The story then follows Natalie as she tries to fix this puzzle – piece by complicated piece.

My Thoughts:

This book starts very well – takes the readers right in the middle of the action. But after that, it is pretty slow paced, till about the halfway mark, where it becomes a page turner again. It is possible that I found it slow paced, because this book is more character driven than plot driven, and I usually prefer the latter kind. It is also possible the first half IS 50 pages too long.

There are several themes that this book explores – friendship, first love, growing up and moving on, race perceptions, adoption, and also to a limited extent – feminism, abusive relationships, and cultural appropriation.

In a way, there is something for everyone, which enables a wide variety of people to connect with something or the other. On the other hand, I felt that in the process of incorporating so many diverse themes, no one thing was given much importance, which makes it difficult for the reader to connect and/or be very invested in the story/characters. I am only mentioning this because the blurb compares this book to the The Time Traveler’s Wife (my review and book discussion, and that book had one focus – time travel, and it evoked much stronger emotions than this one.

But this is essentially a matter of taste. I know many people who love the presence of diverse themes in a book, and also many who enjoy exploring the different shades of single dominant theme as the story progresses.

Also, there is a lot to love in this book. For a debut novel – the language is good, and the foreshadowing/ pacing (especially in the second half) is handled well, and it is a very imaginative plot.


The Tiny Problem

This one comes dangerously close to Insta-Love, but since the love story is not the only theme here (yes, in spite of the title), I guess it’s okay, but insta-love is just very off-putting for me. I mean the title hints at an epic love story, not at a teenage insta-love. But don’t get me wrong, I did love the romance between Natalie and Beau, I just did not get their initial connection (possibly due to the above mentioned insta-love).

The Big Problem

The Ending! I really can’t say anything about the ending without spoiling something or the other, so let me just say that this is one of those endings that makes you go – wonderful! (in a non sarcastic way). And then you think about it. I mean, really think about it, and you are like – Wait, what happened here? How did they go from Point A to Point B? And how does that even solve anything?!

Overall: It is a well written, introspective story of amazing depth, but I did not like the ending (I know that many might be okay with it); I just did not get how the current ending solves anything. If any of you got it, please enlighten me in the comments. Nonetheless, this was a good debut effort, and I will certainly be checking out the author’s future books.

Favorite Quotes/Lines from this book – 

“I don’t love Beau yet, I don’t think. But being with him feels like a better version of being alone, and in that way, I think we are each other’s.”

“Sometimes you change your mind about a person. Or your feelings for them change, or they change, or, I don’t know, you just want to make a different decision. And that’s always okay. You don’t owe anyone anything.”

“No matter how hard it feels, you don’t need to be afraid to move on, and you don’t need to be afraid to stay either. There’s always more to see and feel.”

“For a moment we’re both silent, staring. I wonder if either of us really sees the other clearly anymore or if we stuck looking at the frozen images of who we used to be.”

“Love is giving the world away, and being loved is having the whole world to give.”

Buying Links:

The Love That Split The World (Amazon)
The Love That Split The World (Flipkart)

Have you guys read this book? If yes, I would love to hear your thoughts on the ending. If no – have you read any other time-travel / alternate reality / magical realism books? Please share your favorite ones with me; I am nursing a small addiction to this sub-genre. 😉

– Shantala 

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  1. I loved the title! The title is what made me read the review, but when I read the summary, I realized I’ve been seeing this book up on my GR TL a lot – looks like it’s quite popular. With that said, I am not sure if I’ll read it. Not a big fan of time travel, (or insta-love) and I disliked Time Traveler’s Wife. On the other hand, big fan of magical realism – would recommend Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia, and the most recent one I’ve read – Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
    PS: Love that first quote “better version of being alone”
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  2. Oh I want this one now. It sound really interesting. Is it a new release? Else I might find it in the library.
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  3. Very balanced review– wonderful job.
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  4. Endings can be killer Shanaya. Recently I read one [without giving the name away] the lady is asked to abort by her hubby because she had a girl child. After a few blah blah blah.. she opened the door, he was standing with a sorry face and she goes home with him. Killer [sarcastic way :D] Lovely review.
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  5. I used to read time travel/sci-fi in my childhood. Not sure if I would like such YA fantasy book now. I dislike insta-love thing and also I get confused (and bored) if a book carries so many sub-plots or characters.

    You’ve reviewed this book wisely. Readers would get a clear idea if they want to read this book or not. I’d give it a miss.
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  6. I had not heard about this book at all. But it sounds interesting to me with time travel and all that. I will add this book to my tbr.

  7. I have not had a chance to read this one yet, but I have been curious about it. I like the premise. I was sorry to see the ending didn’t work for you. That can really make or break a book sometimes. And I’m with you on insta-love. I am not a fan. Still, it sounds like this book does have quite a bit going for it even with its flaws.

  8. I love your book reviews – they are detailed and precise. I doubt I’ll read this book as teenage romances don’t do anything for me. So thanks for the warning

  9. You have really become a very good book – reviewer, Shantala! Or, should I say, a pro? Loved reading about the book, but most of all the quotes. I could use all of those to describe certain phases in my life!
    I haven’t read this book or any other of this sort. But I liked the thing I read I might grab it some time and read it to find out what happens in the end!

  10. Lata Sunil says:

    The book sounds very interesting.. I saw this book covered by someone else too . Should try it out.

  11. Really interesting title. in depth analysis actually tempting me to get this immediately. In fact one of the reason is the way you expressed it. Clear thought and the big and small probelms are really interesting in the post

  12. As always, Shantala, you’ve given us another detailed, well thought out review. Looks like a mish-mash of a few genres, yeah?
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  13. I will admit to being very eager to read this one but never getting a chance to do it yet. I loved the premise of the story but didn’t like the YA tag on it (not that I have a problem with YA but I wanted to read a similar story about adults). But after reading your review, I don’t know that it is for me. I may still read it if I come across it.
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  14. What an extensive review. The premise sounds great, and I am a sucker for character-driven stories. So, I think I am surely going to try this. Thank you, Shantala. 🙂
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  15. Hi Shantala. I have read a similar Norse-love story The Elsker Saga, enjoyed it as a light read! I love fantasy, magic fiction tales! As usual an unbiased and crisp review by you. Keep ’em comin’ girl! Cheers love 🙂
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  16. A mix bag of alternate reality, time travel and magic… sounds interesting and intriguing. The quotes from the book are so profound!
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