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Split [Kindle Edition]

Swati Avasthi
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $8.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $3.00 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A riveting portrait of life after abuse from an award-winning novelist.

Sixteen-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.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. Award-winning novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of 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? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 11 Up—After Jace Witherspoon is kicked out by his abusive father, he seeks refuge in Albuquerque with his older brother, whom he hasn't seen in six years. Their mother, also a victim of her husband's abuse, promises to leave him and join her children on Thanksgiving. Jace counts down the days while trying to start a new life and rebuild his relationship with Christian, but he's haunted by a terrible secret and the people he left behind. This gripping story is especially noteworthy because Jace is a victim who has also become an abuser: he hit his girlfriend during an argument the night he left Chicago. He is quick-tempered, proud, and charming, like his father. In contrast, Christian is more like their mother: restrained, deliberate, and humble. Their father's abuse has made Christian emotionally distant, but Jace's presence forces him to open up and confront his guilt about leaving his sibling behind. The brothers' growing relationship, as they turn to each other to escape from their father's shadow, is touching. Jace's narration is raw and intimate, dramatic and poetic; readers will feel his internal struggle keenly. The rest of the characters aren't as richly or skillfully drawn, however, and the plot occasionally lacks subtlety. The book contains graphic depictions of physical abuse, as well as adult language and underage drinking.—Erin Carrillo, formerly at Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Frustration is the emotion most prevalent in this novel about escaping the ravages of domestic violence—if that is even possible. After trying to prevent his father from beating his mother further, 16-year-old Jace is kicked out of his Chicago home. He arrives, swollen and bloody, at the doorstep of his brother in Albuquerque. It’s been five years since 22-year-old Christian fled the violent home front himself, and the brothers’ reunion is defined by awkward negotiations of acceptance and suspicion. With ground rules set, Jace is allowed to stay and resume school, but the specter of their father continues to haunt them—as does the chilling uncertainty of what may be happening to their mother in their absence. Avasthi has a great ear for naturalistic dialogue, and although some interactions feel purposeful, they’re usually couched in convincing details. Jace’s own history of violence makes him a complex and tortured protagonist, and his process of letting go is heart wrenching. A nuanced and mournful work; Avasthi is a writer to watch. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus

Product Details

  • File Size: 359 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375863400
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S49NM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,205 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swati Avasthi is a name to remember in YA fiction January 26, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When his abusive father kicks him out for having the audacity to fight back, 16-year-old Jace Witherspoon has only one place to go--his older brother Christian in New Mexico. From Chicago to Albuquerque is not an easy trip, particularly if you have only recently gotten your license and don't have money, but Jace goes with the faith that his brother will take him in.

You see, Christian ran away several years ago and has found a new life for himself. Having lived through their father's abuse, Christian knows exactly what Jace is going through.

Unfortunately, two abused kids do not necessarily make the best roommates. They've got a lot of trauma, secrets, and bitterness to live through. They do have help from Christian's English teacher girlfriend, Mirriam, and Jace's co-worker, Dakota.

Can they ever feel safe from their Dad? And can they get their Mom, who they both fear is going to be killed by their father away?

"Split" is a compelling read from the first line to the breathless end. While the story's not a thriller per se, this relationship novel definitely had me on the edge of my seat all the way til three AM. This is an excellent book for older young adults and even adult readers will enjoy the finely-drawn characterization and heart-pounding pacing.

Rebecca Kyle, January 2010
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Character Study February 14, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Swati Avasthi's SPLIT is that rare bird in YA literature: a classic character study that moves you to turn the pages as quickly as a plot book would. Here we have a 16-year-old kid named Jace who's on the run from a house of domestic violence. His dad, a respected judge by day, beats his wife silly, while his second punching bag -- Jace's older brother, Christian, has fled Chicago for New Mexico. When Jace tries to intercede for his mother one day, he, too, comes to blows against the monster. That's when he decides to split. That's when he reluctantly abandons his mother and follows his brother to New Mexico.

Avasthi has done her homework. You will learn a lot about why women stay with abusive men and what happens to children of men who hit -- and it will all be shown through dialogue and actions, not lecturing or finger-wagging. Jace and Christian, each with his own demons, try to start a new life as roommates, but Christian has buried his demons under a cloak of silence and long, therapeutic runs across the New Mexican landscape, while Jace must deal with worse torments -- the sins of the father visited on his own persona. With an incredible temper, he has an additional memory to deal with. The memory of grabbing his Chicago girlfriend by the throat one night when he was angry.

This intelligent book has universal appeal. Boys will enjoy the brothers angle and Jace's point of view as he tries to fit in to his new New Mexico high school and the varsity soccer team. Girls will enjoy the strong women in this tale. Christian's girlfriend, Mirriam, is a young teacher trying first to help Christian and then Jace to negotiate the rapids of their unique, yet similar psychological whitewaters.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: SPLIT February 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The envelope says 4B. Even though 4B is labeled MARSHALL, I press the button, and the buzz echoes in the tiny foyer. Answer. Be home and answer.
"Outside, a FedEx truck roars, pauses, and roars again. Its white profile steals away, leaving only a gasp of gray exhaust. A shrunken man drags the door open and holds it for his shrunken wife. Before they even step over the threshold, they see me and stop.
"I am quite the picture. The split lip isn't the only relandscaping my father has done. A purple mountain is rising on my jaw, and a red canyon cuts across my forehead.
"They stare at me, and I suck in my lip, hiding what I can.
"At the moment, a distorted voice comes through the speaker: 'Who is it?'
"Can I really have this conversation over a speaker? Remember me? The brother you left behind? Well, I've caught up. Even in my imagination, I stop here. I leave out the rest.
"'Um,' I say, 'FedEx.'
"The couple unfreezes. The man grasps his wife's elbow, tugs her outside, shoves the door closed, and helps her hobble away. Great way to start my Albuquerque tenure; scaring the locals."

Sixteen year-old Jace Witherspoon will be changing his last name to MARSHALL, and creating himself a new identity just like his big brother Christian did. Five years ago, toward the end of his high school years, Christian disappeared from home and school and Jace has not seen or heard from him since.

At a young age, big brother Christian learned how to antagonize their father, a conservative Chicago judge, so that dad's attention would be deflected, causing him to beat up Christian instead of their mother.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Split, is the perfect example of what I like to call – one of those rare and precious finds. A book that will always sit close to your heart.

I had never heard of his one before coming across it while browsing shelves at the library. However, I was nervous about it at first, since it deals with abuse. Is this a new subject for me to read? No. But it is a sensitive one.

This story focuses on one single question. What happens after you are able to escape an abusive household?

Seems like a given answer, right? If you are in an abusive household, or abused yourself, you leave. That is what most people would think. But that’s not always the case, and Swati shows us that it’s not so simple, not so black and white, that nothing is what it seems. And getting out is just half the battle.

After being kicked out of this house for good, Jace goes in search of his estranged brother, whom left without a backwards glance 5 years prior to escape the same abuse that Jace now has to deal with. Showing up at his door with nothing but a few dollars, he tries to put his old life behind him and move on.

Jace is one of those characters that some would say, you shouldn’t like. Yet, you do. He isn’t really a bad person, per se, but he isn’t good either. The title, Split, is the perfect word to describe him. He is trying to find himself, after living and witnessing physical abuse his entire live. He is trying to move on, so the violence he feels won’t define him. And whether you agree or disagree with some of the things he had done, I admired that about him. He knew things had to change, and he vowed to do it.

Honestly, he’s the perfect example of YOU LIVE WHAT YOU LEARN.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I will be thinking about this book for a while.
Jace has known nothing but abuse since he was a kid. His father beat both his mother and his brother. Read more
Published 3 months ago by ReviewerGirl
2.0 out of 5 stars Good story line but no depth
I enjoyed the plot of the story and I feel as though it had potential. However I noticed there was a large buildup to something that never happened. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Chelsea
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 9 months ago by Vedda N Midura
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but slow
From the audiobook version. First a word about the narrator: He reminded me of David Sedaris*, but not in a good way. The reading was slow and emotionless (?). Read more
Published 10 months ago by M. Surani
4.0 out of 5 stars new perspective and understanding
I never understood how abuse victims respond. This book gave insights into several responses. The characters are complex. I liked them.
Published 10 months ago by Craig Buma
5.0 out of 5 stars Yowzaa- A YA MUST Read!
This book was absolutely INCREDIBLE. The author is a genius! She managed to take a subject that, although controversial, has been around for as long as people have been around, and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Terri B
5.0 out of 5 stars Split Review
This was a great book with lots of excitement, action, and drama. I would definitely recommend this book for teens.
Published 11 months ago by Ann Jas
4.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
This is the kind of book you are abruptly thrown into. There is no easing into the characters and their situations, we aren't introduced to the chaos a little at a time. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Monet
1.0 out of 5 stars not worth the price
lousy writer-will not read her stuff again-style of writing boring-would not ask anyone to read it-do you give refunds or not?
Published 13 months ago by ANN JONES
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing first novel
Jace Witherspoon was kicked out of the house by his father after his dad rearranged his face. His mother handed him an envelope through his car window. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Laura Booksnob
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More About the Author

Swati Avasthi has been writing fiction since she read Little House in the Big Woods at age five. Emily Bronte, Harper Lee, and many others furthered her addiction. She institutionalized her habit at the University of Chicago (B.A.) and at the University of Minnesota (M.F.A.). SPLIT, her debut novel, received the 2011 International Reading Association Award, the 2011 Cybils award, a 2010 Silver Parent's Choice Award, and the New Mexico State Book Award. It was also nominated for eleven other state awards and has been translated into four languages. So she's pretty much been hanging out in the Cloud Nine District. Her second novel, CHASING SHADOWS, hits the shelves in 2013.

She lives in Minneapolis, MN with her two kids, two dogs, and one (but worth two) husband(s).

Visit her at

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