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Split Hardcover – March 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375863400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375863400
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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 www.swatiavasthi.com

Customer Reviews

A book that will always sit close to your heart.
Tonyalee
The characters are compelling, the story is one that needs to be told, and Avasthi's writing brings everything together perfectly.
Heather ORoark
A dark, harsh, raw and powerful story of abuse told from a impeccably-done male pov.
Sab H.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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 By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 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 By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on 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 By Manda Kay on March 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In Swati Avasthi's debut novel, Split, Sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon just wants to be a normal teenager. He dreams of soccer games, girlfriends, and his love for photography that are not tainted by his past. Growing up with an abusive father, a passive mother and a brother who abandoned him when he needed him the most, Jace is afraid for his future. Finally standing up to his father, he escapes his past that he just can not leave behind and shows up on the doorstep of his estranged brother. New friends, a new school and a new job can not hide his abusive past and the secret he is hoping no one ever finds out. Will Jace escape his horrid past? Will he move on and find the family he always dreamed of? Or will he realize his past has become his future? Read Split by Swati Avasthi to find out for yourself.

For me, Split was a story that no one ever wants to tell. The pain, abuse and heartbreak that Jace experiences pops from the pages of this truthful read. Written in first person, Jace is able to tell the readers what he is feeling and how he sees himself. The flashbacks to what Jace had to endure living in a home constantly at war will make even the strongest reader's heart break. I felt that Split was as honest as a work a fiction could be in feeling the pain of an abused child and now abusing teen. The voice of Jace is real of a teen boy going through what he went through. Never did I feel that this was written by an adult woman. It was true to the teenage male heart and the teenage male mind. Avasthi really got into her character of Jace and felt his heart and found his voice.
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