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Friday, April 29, 2011

Split by Swati Avasthi

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.


Avasthi gives an interesting look into the lives of children who live with an abuser.  This shows the differences in how children react and how they deal with the abuse they are dealt.  One child survives and finds a way to deal without turning into his father.  The other, however, seems to take on more of the attributes of the abuser and realizes he is becoming his father.  These two brothers come together to help each other through this difficult time.  Jace hasn't seen his brother Christian in about 5 years since Christian left the home to get away from their father.  This left Jace to become the abused so he could protect his mother.  Jace's father kicks him out of the house when Jace begins to hit back.  This leaves their mother unprotected to deal with their father's wrath.  Jace and Christian have a hard time getting to know each other, and both would like to see their mother run from their father.  

Unfortunately, this story also shows how difficult it is for the abused to leave.  Their mother feels as though she is safer with their father because the last time she ran he almost killed her.  He tells her all the time that if she leaves she will die. Ultimately, Jace and Christian realize the mistakes their mother has made, but also that their is nothing they can do to change her mind.  Jace and Christian both grow further in to the person they are supposed to be and learn that they don't need to follow the footsteps of their abusing father.  This is ultimately a story of survival, but certainly gives an inside look into the perspective of those children who are abused and how they learn to handle themselves.

A great read.  Again this is one I probably would not have picked up on my own, but I used it for part of the Spring Reading Challenge.   This challenge has opened my eyes to a variety of YA books that are available and deal with the major issues in society today.

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