Title: The Love that Split the World
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: young adult; contemporary; fantasy; romance; scifi; time travel
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) 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.
Review: 4 stars
After finishing Beach Read (you can read that review here), I wanted to read more of Emily Henry’s stuff, so I went to my Kindle app and searched. I decided to pick up her first book without reading anything into it. I was very, very shocked. It was a complete departure from Beach Read. Where Beach Read is this new adult awakening, The Love That Split the World is this young adult fever dream of surrealism and like… magical realism?
Bottom line, it was fantastic.
I noticed a few of beautiful similarities from the first book to the latest. She writes with this wonderful fluidity that made it so effortless to keep reading. (I read this book in two days as well.) Her chapters end and begin so seamlessly, so naturally that it feels like a perfect transition. It doesn’t feel like this huge cut or break like some books. This is why I think I was able to finish the book so quickly. I find that sometimes, when the chapter ends with such finality, it allows me to feel more confident about putting the book down for a spell. In this book, I felt almost compelled to continue, I didn’t want to stop scrolling / turning the page, despite it being the end of a chapter (if that makes sense).
I also really loved this book’s use of storytelling. It seems like Henry did her research (as evidenced by her Acknowledgements) to tell this story. I love the way it begins. It’s a little spooky and reminds me of the Netflix retelling of The Haunting of Hill House with Eleanor. (The Love that Split the World is NOT a horror book.) I love this idea of the universe being so flexible and fluid that someone like Natalie can see through veils.
Natalie is an awesome lead. She’s adopted, she doesn’t have her act together, and she wants to get away from her current problems by moving all the way to Brown. She thinks that by getting out of her small town, everything will suddenly just be better. That’s so relatable.
There are some really strong messages in this book — you can’t run away from your problems; your identity is what you make it, yes, but your heritage can be very transformative; no means no; stand up for what you need; be there for the ones you love; do what’s right, no matter the cost; leaps of faith are sometimes truly cathartic.
The way this book is written seems almost like verbal storytelling itself at points. Where Grandmother reminds Natalie that stories are meant to be heard and remembered, not written down, it feels almost the same for Natalie’s own journey. She goes from her present to Beau’s so effortlessly at times, and their story is so frenetic, it feels like it’s meant to be read aloud. There are so many lines that read like poetry, but here’s the one I love the most:
“The sky split open then. / The stars fell like silver rain. / The world stopped turning. The Universe held its breath” (Henry 389).
If you read Beach Read, and like me, go back to Emily Henry’s first, this will be something of a shock. They’re very, very different.
Natalie can kind of bend time and space, and there seem to be ghosts along the way. The element of the supernatural is nowhere to be seen in Beach Read, but it is so well done in The Love that Split the World. This is definitely YA, it’s a fast read, and it’s well done. I definitely recommend.