Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Title: Split

Author: Swati Avasthi

Pages: 282

Received from: Amazon (or something)


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.

For some godforsaken reason I keep picking up the Big Bad Abuse Stories. There's something wrong with me.

Anyway. We got Jace, driving all night from Chicago to find his brother who may or may not be there. He's greeted with a med student with a new last name and a girlfriend swinging a bat at him. While there is a totally logical excuse for this, the statement just sounds funnier and chances are a shitload more compelling. Yes, I think so.

So yeah, his brother Christian, who he hasn't seen in five years, reluctantly lets him stay in his little shithole apartment. Jace is all shocked at how Christian managed to get away (which, trust me, was a very elaborate scheme) without once thinking of Jace (and his excuse was, oh, he hadn't hit you yet! please.) So there's some familial dramz there, but the main conflict, I think, is Jace v. himself, 'cos he did something bad, ya'll. I'm not sure if telling you would be a spoiler or not, but yeah. It's pretty fucked up. I kind of loved, how Avasthi didn't make him a sniveling little victim. There was kind of an anti-hero vibe going on as his "bastard-no-more" pledge fails miserably when he starts his new school. Because I hate that, the whiney little victims. Even if they end up victimizing someone else, it still feels more real then a kicked puppy.

I think that was the most appealing part of Split, that the characters weren't just victims, even though most of them had every right to be. Christian, whose kind of a jerk sometimes but doesn't spend all day every day feeling sorry for himself. Jace's girlfriend, who kind of won't take no shit (a major turn on for Jace cause his mother's kind of a jellyfish) but ends up taking a lot of shit, which is why Jace can not will not have anything to do with her (because he needs someone who would throw his ass in jail if he so much as talked to loudly). She should be a victim, according to every other book on a similar subject ever, but she's so bitchy that its not hard to imagine someone smacking her. The only real victim's victim is Jace and Christian's mother who, if anything, is way more hurtful then their mega-violent daddy, because she obviously picking her husband over her children and that kills Jace, so much that he starts crying like a baby for, like, hours. I'd say I wanted to slap her, but obviously that's never gotten her to do anything before, so let's move on.

Avasthi's writing style is minimistic and easy to read. I would have finished it in one sitting if I didn't have homework and school and hygenic standards, but that's just me. While Jace trys his darndest to make you want to hate him, you don't. And its abundent with those "strong" characters that have become a myth in the YA scene, which is ironic because this type of shit is usually all about the weak, spineless doormats. An excellent debut (yo.)

Rating: 8 out of 10


Greengreenandpink said...

looks fabulous! I wonder if the library will have it...

thanks for the review!

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

This sounds intriguing, and sometimes I enjoy writing with a minimalist style. I'll keep this one in mind. :)

Emma said...

You never fail to amuse me. This looks pretty interesting.

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