Title: The Love That Split the World
Author: Emily Henry
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveller’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. There was quite a bit of hype surrounding it, enough to make me want to pick it up, but it didn’t sound like my kind of book and the blurb didn’t give much away either. After reading it though, I was surprised by how much I loved this book. The writing was beautiful, the characters were strong and nuanced, and the story was addictive.
After three years of silence Grandmother once again appears to Natalie in the middle of the night. Only instead of comfort and a story she brings cryptic warnings; that this will be the last time they see one another and that Natalie only has three months to save ‘him’. After that visit Natalie starts seeing things; constructions sites where there should be buildings, a home that doesn’t belong to her family, a boy standing alone in the middle of the football field.
Natalie has no idea what is happening to her but she knows what she needs to do. Grandmother did give her one name, Alice Chen, and Natalie is determined to find answers. However, the more Natalie and Alice start delving into what’s actually happening, the more questions they seem to come across and they don’t seem to be getting any closer to finding out the truth behind Natalie’s visions. Time is quickly running out; the deadline Grandmother gave Natalie is fast coming up.
But Natalie has an ally in Beau. He has the same gift as Natalie; where she is seeing Beau’s version of Union Beau is seeing Natalie’s, and while the two of them are able to move between the worlds each of them belong to a different one; a world where the other doesn’t exist. As the two spend more and more time together, together trying to work out what is happening to them and falling in love something happens that has a disastrous effect on both their world’s and Natalie feels the pressure of Grandmother’s time limit fall even harder on her shoulders.
Natalie was adapted as a baby and wonders about her heritage as a Native American; it shapes her decision to move away to college and find out more about herself. She used to be content in the popular crowd, with her friends and her boyfriend Matt, but when Grandmother disappeared for the first time things start to feel empty and she pulls away from them. Natalie is strong without being overpowering or judgmental; she is clever, thoughtful and kind but she still has her darker moments.
After she loses Grandmother again, this time for good, she is willing to do anything to do anything to get her back again. She is determined to save the boy her Grandmother warned her about but she has no clue where to start; and while she has help from Alice and Beau she really needs Grandmother to point her in the right direction.
Beau has been travelling between the two versions of Union since he was a child. To control it he turned to alcohol but he isn’t an addict, he is fully in control at all times having experienced addiction in the form of his alcoholic father. Beau is something of a loner; Matt may be his best friend and Rachel is ex in beau’s version of Union but he holds himself apart from them. Natalie seems to be the only person he fully opens up to.
Both Natalie and Beau share an instant connection. Beau comes to be one of the only people Natalie fully opens up to about everything she has seen and experienced; she tells him about Grandmother, why she quit dancing, all her fears and desires and doubts. The relationship between them was so beautiful to read; it was sweet and heartbreaking at times but I was never once in doubt of their love for one another.
I adored all of the surrounding characters in this book. Even though the story focuses on Natalie and Beau’s relationship the secondary characters are not neglected. Natalie’s mother, father, brother and sister are all close-knit; they love and support one another. They make sure she is aware of her cultural heritage and at the same time make her feel comfortable in their family. Her ex-boyfriend Matt and her old friend Rachel feel abandoned by Natalie after she pulled away from them and decided to leave Union for Brown University but they still try to reach out to her. All of them have their faults and their own nuances that make them such great supporting characters.
I adored the concept of this book; the idea of two parallel versions of Union existing side by side and two people being able to cross between them. The idea of how one small event can change so many things. There was a lot of respect paid to Native American culture. The stories that Grandmother told to Natalie were brilliant to read and Natalie clearly respected her own culture as well; she refused to write any of them down instead speaking them the way they had been read to her.
I have pretty much done nothing but gush about how much I loved this book, and you may be wondering why I only gave it four stars instead of five. No spoilers so don’t worry about that, but I didn’t understand the ending. The last few chapters, when everything comes to a head, and the conclusion of this novel just ended up confusing me a little. There was part of me that enjoyed the fact that the ending was open to interpretation but another part of me wanted more of a conclusion for this book.
The Love That Split the World is one of most beautifully written books I’ve read in a while; I couldn’t help but fall in love with the story, Natalie, Beau, and their relationship. This book has fast become one of my favourite reads of this year so I would highly recommend it to anyone. Emily Henry is definitely an author to look out for.
What did you think of The Love That Split the World? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.