Published by Razorbill on January 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
We gave a quick shoutout to FairyLoot, a new YA monthly subscription box launching next month from the UK (but shipping internationally)! Go check it out!
THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD is a genre bending Young Adult novel that we mostly enjoyed. All three of us really liked the creation and Native American stories that were woven into the narrative, as we found that aspect unique and a creative way to move the plot forward. Also, they were generally interesting to read and made for the most interesting part of the novel. Jamie really liked that they foreshadowed what was to happen in the rest of the story; Dani did not like that their purpose seemingly changed at the end of THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD from being informative to being “preachy.” (See the spoiler discussion at the end for why.)
Where Jamie and Dani heavily connected to Natalie, the main character, as she was searching for a place of belonging and wanted to figure out who she was – things both girls struggled with in high school and into the present – Iris found her hard to relate to. This was the main issue for Iris, as she usually loves character driven stories, but because she couldn’t connect to Natalie, she found herself bored and not enjoying the actual reading process. Jamie and Dani both agree that it could be hard to connect to Natalie if you did not have the same identity issues, especially in high school. As both girls went to relatively small high schools that were heavily focused on sports (Jamie’s high school put particular emphasis on football), it was easy to relate to Natalie and her high school experience, which made it easy to immerse themselves in the story.
All three of us were torn on the romance in THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD, as Dani was #obsessed with Natalie and Beau, whereas Iris enjoyed them as a couple but wasn’t necessarily “rooting” for them to get together, and Jamie was rolling her eyes every time they were together on the page. Jamie would have been more supportive of the relationship had it been a slow and gradual buildup rather than being instantly in love with one another. This is pretty typical of how the three girls read and enjoy the romance in their stories.
Iris thought THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WOLRD’s pacing and the story were slow and a tad boring, which Dani and Jamie understand, even though they enjoyed it themselves. For a book that has “Science Fiction” as one of its genres, there is no action – this is a character and romance driven novel. Dani and Jamie were both left dissatisfied with the ending as they wanted something more out of the final conclusion. In our video, Dani pleads for someone to write her a bit of an epilogue. All three of us agreed that Henry’s writing was beautiful and lyrical without being “purple prose,” and we found the novel easy to read.
THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD is a nostalgic novel that will transport you back to when you experienced your first real taste of freedom, that first breath of fresh air, that first sigh of relief – the summer after high school. It depicts small town life in a way that is both romanticized and realistic, which is typical for actual small town life. Henry’s debut is one that spans across dimensions and deserves all the praise it has received.
Let’s take a moment to talk about that ending, specifically why Dani thought it was preachy and Jamie didn’t. After finishing the recording of the video, the two of us continued talking, and it came to light that we had interpreted the ending differently.View Spoiler »The end scene was told in a story form, similar to Grandmother’s other tales. It was about a girl and her ghost boyfriend, referring abstractly to Natalie and Beau. In this story, the girl chooses to trade her life in for her boyfriend’s because she loves him. Love (as in capital letter Love) then stops her before she can kill herself and says it can see how much love she feels, says it’s enough and lets both live.
Dani thought this was a retelling of the Binding of Isaac story from earlier in the book, where Abraham almost sacrifices his son Isaac until God stops him, saying his love and trust in God is enough. On the other hand, Jamie believed it to be connected to the story of the girl who jumped through the hole below the tree and created a new world. Because Dani thought of the biblical story automatically, she was left unsettled, as the book went from being filled with interesting stories to being religious in her mind, something she doesn’t particularly enjoy in a book. However, while she still sees the connection with Abraham’s sacrifice, she can also see Jamie’s interpretation, which has helped her come to terms a bit more with the end.
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What did you think? Let us know in the comments, making sure to preface any spoilery comments with “SPOILER DISCUSSION”.
- Could you connect with Natalie?
- What do you miss most about high school? If you’re still in high school (you young whippersnapper, you), what do you think you’ll miss most?
- Could you feel the romance?
- Did you like Grandmother’s stories? Which was your favourite?
- What did you think of the end?