The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry
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 Traveler’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.
“Sometimes the most beautiful moments in our lives are things that hurt badly at the time. We only see them for what they really were when we stand at the very end and look back.”
I have to be honest, from the title, I didn’t expect much of this book. I was wrong, and I love it when I’m wrong in moments like this. This was a wonderfully-written, introspective book of surprising depth.
God is a thing I think I see in glimmers all over: an enormous and vague warmth I sometimes catch pulsing around me, giving me shivers and making tears prick my eyes; a mysterious and limitless Thing threaded through all the world and refusing to be reduced to a name or a set of rules and instead winding itself through millions of stories, true and made up, connecting all breathing things.
This book has diversity (for example, the main character is dark-skinned Native American) and feminism, two traits that are incredibly rare in YA literature. I think it would fit into the magical realism genre, which is surprising, since I tend to think of that entire genre as hippie-dippie bullshit.
I’m not Native American, and I can’t pretend to judge the veracity of the short tales and myths presented in this book; all I know is that the writing is beautiful and the legends are respectfully presented.
The main character is great. She’s strong without being bitchy. She’s not judgmental and she is thoughtful without seeming to be unrealisticly perfect.
“That’s when I fell in love with Matt Kincaid,” Megan says quietly.
It’s like a dagger in my heart. Not jealousy, at least not toward Megan. If anything, I’m jealous that she loves Matt but doesn’t even know me. And I’m jealous that this Megan would tell me about things mine never has. I wonder when her feelings for him went away, if they even did, and how I didn’t notice them.
Had I been hurting her, hurting both of them, for the last six years over something it turns out I’d never been sure I wanted?
So from what I’ve said, this book is pretty great, right? Well, no. First, it is suuuuuuuuuuuuper slow. The writing is beautiful, but there are entire paragraphs written about one concept, and so the book feels overly verbose. Furthermore, the romance can get too much at times. It didn’t feel that way because again, the writing is wonderful, but it can get distracting.
But overall, this was a much better book than the title indicates.