Friday, April 8, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Love That Split The World / Emily Henry

TITLE: The Love That Split The World
AUTHOR: Emily Henry
PUBLISHER: Razorbill

Young Adult--Science Fiction/Romance

Summarizing the plot of The Love That Split the World is easy: Natalie Cleary receives a visit from an apparition who says she has "Three months to see him," then starts seeing a mysterious boy who seems to be from another world and noticing small but strange changes in her surroundings that no one else seems to see. But there is so, so, SO much more to this gorgeous YA novel.

I categorized it as sci-fi because the whole alternate-world thing, but really, it reads more like magical realism because the world is contemporary and the sci-fi elements are pretty understated. Like, there aren't any beeping devices or anything. The strange shifts in Natalie's world just kind of happen, almost like Acts of God, though by the explanation that's eventually revealed is totally sci-fi (and very clever!).

Ultimately, though, this book is about the characters. It has a quiet kind of plot; much of it is about Natalie's last bittersweet summer before college...  her shifting relationships with her friends, and her blossoming romance with Beau (the mysterious boy from the alternate reality). Interspersed are scenes where she tries to figure out what's going on with her strange visions with the help of a researcher who studies a very specific kind of psychology (and this is where a lot of the science fiction elements come in).

This book is as gorgeous as its cover (speaking of which, holy moly, that cover!!!), both in terms of the writing and its story. The writing really sings on the page, with its flowing descriptions, yet at the same time, the dialogue is witty and funny. I love a good romance, and Natalie and Beau's chemistry is palpable and heartwrenching. I also loved that Natalie had complex relationships with other characters outside the romance--her friends, her ex, and her adoptive family. Overall, she's a very well-developed and complex character, and I loved her voice in her narration.

Since I read this book, scholar Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children's Literature has critiqued the depiction of Natalie's adoption (which bypasses the Indian Child Welfare Act) and the way Native American stories used in the novel. It was the critique that split my mind because I still love this book, and at the same time I can see how parts of it are problematic. So I'm recommending that you read both... The book for its wonderful writing and the critique for perspective.

Overall, this book has so many intricate and beautifully rendered elements that it's impossible to properly gush about them all in a review. So I'm going to stop here and just say GO READ THIS BOOK!!! IT'S LOVELY AND SOPHISTICATED AND ROMANTIC AND BOTH HEARTWARMING AND HEARTWRENCHING!!!!

Ahem... I mean... This was a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it.

Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

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