The Love That Split the World
by Emily Henry
Summary: 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.
Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate.
This was the first book I received in an Owlcrate that I already knew I wanted to read. It was on my radar. The cover was gorgeous. The plot seemed enticing. I was so happy it came in an Owlcrate because it saved me the book math logic of having to decide to buy it or wait for prices to go down once it was available in paperback.
It is hard to review the book because I don’t know if I wasn’t in the mood for the type of story it was or if the story wasn’t well executed or what. It should have been something I should be raving about, but I was left feeling vaguely..meh.
I think The Love That Split the World is one of those books you have to be in a certain mood to read. It was a cool story that had a ton of Native American elements and an otherworldly sense in an otherwise contemporary story. It was well written. While the writing was descriptive, it wasn’t completely poetic like the Tahereh Mafi’s and Nova Ren Suma’s of the world, where you just kind of expect something strange and somewhat magical to come creeping out of the woodwork somewhere.. where magic and time travel just belong and where instalove isn’t even an issue because you’re so overwhelmed by the sensations of being in a moment. Instead, it read like a normal teenage contemporary about a girl struggling with identity and graduation looming ahead of her like an ominous countdown. And that would’ve been fine, but something about the plot and the style of writing just didn’t mesh for me.
Maybe I just didn’t connect with Natalie. Or Beau. Or the awful insta-love. I didn’t understand why she could suddenly get over someone she loved and fall into his arms even though he literally represented the exact same things that her previous boyfriend did and the exact things that plagued her because she didn’t feel like she belonged and he was from a world where she literally didn’t belong. And no matter many times they referred to each other by full name to provide some sort of serious dialogue, Natalie Cleary and Beau Wilkes, I was rolling my eyes and waiting for her visits with the counselor to provide some better answers as to what was happening to her. The problem with The Love That Split the World is that I had to be fully invested in the love in order to truly jump on board with the entire plot, twists and all, and I just wasn’t.
But the writing was well done and Natalie’s conflict was certainly captivating. She was going through a period of time where her identity was everything and she had no idea who she was. I felt that and I understood her struggle and her need to track down answers to who this Grandmother figure was in order to understand the world around her. But I feel like a bunch of elements or details about the story could have been different in the execution in order for me to full jump on board with the plot and have it hit me the way I feel like it should have. It’s very difficult, in my opinion, to mix the supernatural or fantastic with a contemporary and get it right. And while I loved the originality of the story, I don’t feel like it executed it well, despite the descriptive writing. It tried to do too many things at once.
The book certainly hit a lot of high notes. It was positive. It did not slut shame when opportunities arose. It featured characters worth looking up to. Even Natalie, who was basically seeing things, wasn’t afraid to seek out counseling and never was it made into a negative or secretive thing. There’s a lot of love when you’re looking for those qualities because so many YA novels get that wrong. It even had diverse characters from a Native American background. In that area, the novel shined.
I understand why it is highly praised, but it was missing that key element that sucked me in emotionally and I just couldn’t seem to get fully into it. I’d recommend it, though, as the story was certainly unique. I will perhaps even try to read it again just to see if it was me or the book that was missing something.