The Love That Split the World is one of those books that you can judge by its cover. It truly is a beautiful story inside and out.
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Young Adult • Romance • Fantasy > Time Travel
Version: Hardback (400 pages)
Publisher: Razorbill (January 26, 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 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.
I purchased The Love That Split the World back in April as part of my birthday book haul. The gorgeous cover caught my eye immediately of course and that was the end of it. Since April, it has been sitting on my shelf looking pretty. When I found out that Emily Henry was going to be attending the Books by the Banks Book Festival in October, I decided it was time to give it a go. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed.
This is the story of Natalie, an 18-year-old girl who has always felt as if she has never fully belonged. Natalie, who is of Native American decent, was adopted by her family when she was 11 days old. As Natalie grows older, she realizes how different she looks from her parents and siblings, so she does everything she can to fit in: joining the dance team, being friends with the popular crowd, and even dating the star of the football team. Throughout her childhood, Nat suffers from hypnopompic hallucinations, or at least that is what the doctors tell her. See, Nat is often visited in the middle of the night by an apparition that refers to herself as “Grandmother.” Grandmother tells Natalie stories in the form of Native American legends. She tells Nat the legends are significant and that they hold important lessons for her. After extensive therapy, Natalie stops seeing Grandmother around age 15, and she achieves a level of normalcy. Three years go by without incident…
At the end of her senior year Nat realizes the life she is living is not who she really is, but rather the life of someone only trying to fit in. After making the decision to attend Brown University in the fall, Nat decides that she is done pretending to be someone else, she quits the dance team and breaks up with her long time boyfriend. This is when things start to take a turn for the unusual. Three months before Nat is to leave for college, Grandmother returns with a cryptic warning: Nat has three months to save “him.” There is only one problem, who is “him” exactly?
I thought the premise of this book was very original and compelling. The synopsis of the book says this book is “Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife” but I didn’t particularly feel like this was an accurate comparison. This book really isn’t about football in any way… sure a few of the characters play on the football team, but that is about the extent of it. While there are a few similar elements as The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Love That Split the World is a completely different spin on those elements… The Love That Split the World is definitely its own original story that can hold its own.
I love that the main character, Natalie, is of Native American decent and really enjoyed the Native American legends and folklore included in this book. I enjoyed how these stories are shared with us in the beginning, but the relevance of these stories isn’t clear until later in the book. You will find yourself having some “ah-hah!” moments when you finally see the connections. I found the plot to be both mysterious and alluring. Like a whirlwind, I never knew which direction this story was going to go.
Some have argued that the romance between Natalie and Beau is insta-love, however I didn’t feel the insta-love vibe, instead I felt they were drawn to one another by a some kind of special connection. There was a insta-connection, but I think love took a little longer. I usually have pretty low expectations for YA romance, but Henry crafted a beautiful love story. There was one scene in particular, when Beau starts talking about their future together, that warmed my heart. Natalie and Beau didn’t feel forced or over the top, they made me feel like they were meant to be together.
Emily Henry’s writing is surprisingly beautiful and lyrical in nature. Surprising because this is her debut novel. This sure as hell didn’t feel like a debut novel. Henry was really able to draw me into the story and kept me engaged until the very end. I am very interested in seeing what she has in store for us in the future!
Love That Split the World is not without a few shortcomings. There were a few loose ends that I would have liked to see wrapped up. I didn’t feel like there was closure or any type of epiphany with regards to Natalie’s struggle with her identity, particularly where her family (adopted and biological) is concerned. I also must admit, I feel like some of the fantasy depictions in this book went over my head. The fault may not be with the book, it could just be me, however I did find myself confused during some of the book. It just felt like a lot of info to take in at once.
Bottom Line: The Love That Split the World is a beautifully written YA fantasy with an epic romance at its core. It was like a dream that I didn’t want to wake up from.
“Love is giving the world away, and being loved is having the whole world to give.”
“It’s true that nothing has the potential to hurt so much as loving someone, but nothing heals like it either.”
“Funny thing about belonging to two worlds: Sometimes you feel like you belong in zero.”
About the Author:
Emily Henry is full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.