Natalie Cleary wants to enjoy the perfect post high school summer. Only a few things are preventing that, some normal, some not. With a complicated ex-boyfriend, a best friend that’s moving away, and her own impending move to Rhode Island, Natalie is already under stress. When she receives an ominous night visit from her “grandmother”, a cross between a ghost and a friend, she is left with one terrifying message. She only has three months to save him. Who is “him”? Natalie doesn’t know, but she needs to find out. To complicate matters, she’s starting to worry about her sanity. She knows she’s still living in her small Kentucky hometown, but sometimes things seem different – a blue door where there should be a red one or an addition on a building that she’s never seen.
Then she meets Beau and her whole world changes.
The Love That Split the World is a complicated novel about love, loss, and finding where you belong. Natalie, who is Native American, is adopted by a loving, but very white Kentucky family. Henry handles Natalie’s difficulty accepting herself and where she fits with grace – though it’s not necessarily a focus of the story. The novel is interwoven with folklore from “Grandmother” about remaking the world, true identity, and consequences, in an effort – unbeknownst to Natalie – to prepare her for the world to come. Through this, Henry strikes the right balance between the ancient and modern worlds.
If I have one complaint, and I always do, it’s that it’s love at first sight. In this case, I’m forgiving because it is balanced out by a subsequent deeper exploration of the characters of Natalie and Beau, as well as their close friends. The novel is an interesting mix of science, speculative, and contemporary fiction. It’s also quite sweet and unexpected. It’s being hailed as a cross between Friday Night Lights and The Time Traveler’s Wife, and while it does have elements of both, it’s also wholly unique.
Emily Henry’s The Love That Split the World* is a (young adult) novel I can highly recommend.
This is my second young adult novel this year, which means I am still meeting my goal of reading outside my comfort genre. Although honestly, who can pass on anything being compared to Friday Night Lights? Anyone else meeting their goals?
*I received a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.