For What It's Worth

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Swati Avashti is hosting the Before the Split Tour this month to spotlight Domestic Violence Month and to help raise money for a worthy cause. You can read her guest post from yesterday HERE. If you haven't already please leave a comment at the end of her post. $1 for every comment left will go to the Family Violence Protection Fund. I will match every $1 up to $50.00.

As part of the tour and to help promote Swati's debut novel Split - I'm re-posting my review. It remains one of my favorite books this year.

Split16-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. It is about 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? YA Fiction

Split tells the story of abuse from a unique perspective in YA literature today – the guys POV. Because of this we are allowed to view a side of this topic that we don’t usually see. Christian and Jace are brothers and they both took beatings from their father to protect their mother. How they have dealt with that abuse emotionally couldn’t be more different from each other. Christian managed to escape years ago and made a life for himself but prefers to hide his past and avoid conflict. Jace was left behind to bear the brunt of their father’s beatings and he may be more like his father than he cares to admit. When he shows up on Christian’s doorstep asking for a place to stay, it forces the brothers to deal with issues they both would rather forget.
As Jace tries to escape and move on from his abusive father, there are many questions that still have to be answered.
After so many years of trying to live up to your father’s expectations, how do you avoid becoming him? Do you leave someone you love behind to save yourself? Do you deserve to have someone good in your life if you’ve done something bad?
I hate to say this is an “important” book because it brings to mind words like – boring – lecture – preachy, and this book is none of those things, but I do think it is an important story to read. Not much is written about boys who suffer from abuse and the effect that has on their relationships. The bad boy is often seen as someone who can be saved if you love him enough and are usually preferable to the good guy.
Avasthi doesn’t sugarcoat it but shows all sides of the subject through Jace’s relationships with the other characters.
There is Mirriam – Christian’s girlfriend who is a teacher and works with at risk children. She can be a little overbearing in her efforts to help but she means well and becomes an important influence in Jace's life.
Jace and Christian’s mom – this is a tough one, you are alternately angry at and sympathize with her. The scenes with her and the boys are the toughest to read.
Lauren – the girlfriend from Jace’s former life – theirs is a volatile relationship born from dysfunction but again the author doesn’t water it down to make it more palatable for the reader.
Then we have Dakota – the girl in Jace’s future (maybe). She represents something good, a healthy relationship for Jace if he can let go of his past.
There were a number of storylines and characters in this book, but for once I never felt like it was too much. It was just another piece to the unfolding story. I also laughed quite a bit throughout the book in spite of the subject matter.
Loved: The writing was top notch. Compelling and good pacing.
Nitpick: This is minor – but the cover and title don’t really pop. After reading the book it makes sense but I’m not sure I would have picked it up if wasn’t on my 2k10 list. (but I’m glad I did!)

Rating: 4 out of 4 Great book! Split is a riveting debut novel. Swati Avasthi has a lot of talent and I’m looking forward to what she writes next!

*Author's website:
*Buy The Book: Split
*Split is another book from the Class of 2k10. If you haven't checked out this group of debut YA and mid grade authors yet....get going!

*OK - I'm going to get a little preachy here. I looked up some statistics on children and violence after reading this book and the numbers are really shocking. I unfortunately have friends that were victims of child abuse and know the long lasting effects it can have on their self esteem and relationships. I really do think it's important (there's that word again....don't roll your eyes!) to be educated and try to put an end to the cycle of abuse. While the focus is primarily on the victims - mostly women - I believe we should put more effort into educating boys on how to handle their emotions, especially anger. Although I hate to say it, but I'm seeing more and more young women acting out violently these days too. Alright - I'm off my soapbox now!

(I've highlighted the statistics that I feel pertain to the book)
 Between 3.3 million and 25 million children experience domestic violence in their homes each year. The number is greatly under-reported.
Between 50% and 75% of male batterers also abuse their children.
 40% of suspected child abuse also includes a history of domestic violence.
 25% of victims of domestic violence are pregnant women.
 70% of the children in domestic violence shelters are physically abused or neglected.
 80% of runaways come from homes where domestic violence occurs.
 Young criminal offenders are four times more likely to come from abusive homes.
63% of boys ages 11 to 20 arrested for homicide, have killed their mother’s assaulter.
70% of men in court-ordered treatment for domestic violence witnessed it as a child.
 Girls from homes with domestic violence are 6.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and more likely to become pregnant as a teen.
Boys from homes with domestic violence are four times more likely to abuse in a dating relationship, 25 times more likely to commit rape as an adult, 6 times more likely to commit suicide, have a 74 percent greater chance of committing crimes against others, are 24 times more likely to commit a sexual assault as an adult, and 1000 times more likely to commit violent acts against an adult partner or their own children.

Statistics obtained from
Denial, Minimization, Externalization of Responsibility
By Alyce LaViolette CABIP Co-Chair, South
Alternatives to Violence Founder


  1. Thank you for the rec, Karen. I'll be sure to check this out, now, whereas before I didn't plan to, because as you say, the title and cover did nothing to interest me.

  2. This is a brilliant book. I'm so happy you are telling readers about it.

  3. I also love this book so was thrilled to see this excellent review. Thanks, too, for all those statistics--they are very eye opening.

  4. Thanks so much for all your 2k10 love! And couldn't agree more on the SPLIT review.

  5. This is such an important book and Avasthi has a great talent for telling this story. Thanks for posting on this one!

  6. Great review, Karen! I've seen a lot about this book lately. Those statistics are scary.

    Let me know if you think of the book you were wondering about :)

  7. Chilling statistics and Swati's wonderful book goes a long way towards helping us understand them.

  8. Thanks for all the comments! I'm glad so many people are reading this book.....yes, it's an important subject but it's also a GREAT book! Excellent writing!

  9. Just finished it and couldn't put it down! I keep thinking about the characters and forgetting there isn't more to read.

  10. I must check this book out. And wow. Those statistics are insane. Thanks for posting this! :)

  11. Nice review. I agree that it was a totally educating angle with which to view domestic violence from and a compelling read despite the difficult topic.