Monday, July 19, 2010

Split, by Swati Avasthi

After years of watching his father beat up his mother, Jace finally stands up and hits him back. As a result, his Dad throws him out of the house and Jaces goes off to find his older brother Christian who fled many years before. Reunited, Jace and Christian face their horrifying past together. It's a rocky road as the brothers find that the years of witnessing the abuse have left them far more damaged that either of them realized. Initially, they have the help of a few friends, but it becomes very clear that the two young men have to battle their demons for themselves.

This is a truly outstanding book, albeit with a harrowing narrative. You'll need a strong stomach to get through the abuse scenes as well as to witness the realistic portrayal of what being witnesses to such acts has done to the boys. The book is an extremely strong character study. Nothing about Jace or Christian is simple. Their personalities and problems unravel slowly through the story, revealing only a little at a time (not so much for suspense as simply to help the reader digest the complexity of the issues. I like that complexity a great deal and in my mind Avasthi accurately displayed the impact of abuse within families.

In sum, this is not an enjoyable book to read, but it is a necessary one. To better understand the horrors of abuse and its long-term impact on children, this is a superb place to start. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book for light summer reading, but I feel it is a great book nonetheless.

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