split // an emotional punch

An obscure blog that reviews books lead me to Split; by Swati Avasthi. I was reluctant to pick the book up at first as it deals explicitly with domestic violence but the descriptions, characterization and overall writing style tells the tale perfectly with hints of humor sifted into a serious topic. Jace Witherspoon, the narrator, runs away from his abusive father and drives across the country to find his brother who “disappeared one night, out of school, out of the house” (Avasthi 9). They drawback, however, is that their mom is still stuck with their father and refuses to leave him. Along with trying to get their mother to safety, Jace has to deal with a rocky relationship with his brother, his own abusive instincts and the threat of their dad finding where they are. Jace Witherspoon isn’t a good person but he isn’t evil either. He says, “Isn’t it too convenient just to forgive yourself, let yourself off the hook? What will keep you from doing it again, then?” (234). He feels guilt and remorse when he hits his girlfriend. I am in no way saying that this behavior is accepted. Jace’s tendencies have been groomed by taking the blows from his father.

The ending is less than satisfying but I respect the decisions that the author made as life doesn’t always go the way one wants. Jace frequently sends emails to his mother to get her out and they arrange for her to drive away on Thanksgiving but she doesn’t. As a result, the brothers drive to try and force her back. Her mother persists on digging her own grave and in a way, she is too deep to climb out. Domestic abuse rarely end happily after in real life. The characters are dysfunctional and some of the parts are painful and raw.



Avasthi, Swati. Split. 1st ed., New York, Knopf Books For Young Readers, 2013,.

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