Monday, February 28, 2011
Split by Swati Avashti
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.
My Take: This one nearly missed my radar. I found the story compelling, the characters very well developed, and the disorders well researched. The author digs in deep and uncovers the contempt, hatred, and love the family members have for one another. She also presents a conundrum. I just love that word.
Judge Witherspoon is all about appearances. If you live in his house (and you WILL), you will abide by his rules. A complete narcissistic personality lawyer type. Excellent.
The mother is beaten down emotionally and physically. She sees no way out. Interesting symbolism of the Queen chess pieces and Jace's compulsion to save/steal them and what he eventually does with his collection.
Christian gets out after careful planning and makes a life for himself with conditions. He will never, ever risk being found by his dad and he will never allow abuse in his home.
Jace was one of his father's favorite punching bags. When he left, he also left some secrets. In order or healing to occur, all secrets will be spilled, consequences will follow and Jace may alienate his brother.
I loved the complexity of the characters and the circumstances. I loved the exploration of Jace's feelings for himself, Lauren, Dakota, his mom, and his dad. I loved that Jace's appearance is the catalyst for Christian developing true intimacy with Mirriam, the voice of logic in this story.
The story is told through Jace's POV, although in third person. The present time is given but Jace's mind flashes back and fills in the holes. Particularly compelling is the detail used to describe the first time Christian is used as a punching bag, the consequences, and the way the Judge responds to each of the characters. It. Was. Incredible.