Tuesday, February 23, 2016

An Existential Crisis in the Making

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 with 2 comments
Title: The Love That Split the World
Author: Emily Henry
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

This book was like an existential crisis for me. Have you ever just read a book that because of heightened emotions or personal experiences -- or in spite of them -- just resonates with you on a level that it maybe wouldn't have otherwise? A book that just made you want to live your life more fully? That made you think you weren't living your best life? That was this book for me.

The Love That Split the World was just so poignant and honest and beautifully heartbreaking that I would have to be a monster not to have felt something while reading it. It's a love story first and foremost, but it doesn't just focus on romantic love. Yes, the romance was a key focus of the novel, but it also delved into the familial bond and loving oneself and the all-encompassing love of a higher power, and it utterly captivated me in doing so, even if I'm not necessarily religious myself .

I loved Natalie Cleary from Chapter One, and I only grew to love her character more as the story progressed. She managed to corral anyone into her witty repartee and her snark knew no bounds. But even when she was stuck inside her own head, having an existential crisis of her own, I couldn't help but feel attached to her. It was the same with "Grandmother". I figured out the truth of this would-be deity a lot sooner than Natalie herself did, but it made me love her no less. Probably more, actually. Just as it was for Natalie, Grandmother's presence was warm and welcoming in a story that I knew was going to leave me undone.

That's due in part to the comparison to Friday Night Lights and The Time Traveler's Wife. Because of the FNL comparison, I pictured Beau as Tim Riggins. Not that I minded that one bit. ;0) And because of the stories Grandmother tells -- with their lack of endings -- and because of the apparent resemblance to The Time Traveler's Wife -- which I haven't read, nor have I seen the movie, but I fully expect to ball my eyes out if I ever do -- I anticipated a fulfilling yet not necessarily happy ending. I won't tell you what kind of ending I did get, but I did write in my notes somewhere that if this story ended like The Amber Spyglass, I was not going to be happy. Make of that what you will.

Going into this story, I wasn't sure whether to expect time travel or a multiverse novel or something in between, especially after Grandmother's first story. And I'm still not 100% sure what to classify this as because it's detailed yet vague and I feel as if you're supposed to draw your own conclusions, just like with Grandmother's stories. When what's happening is being explained to Natalie, it still seemed like it could be either/or. The explanation made sense to me in the way that Donnie Darko makes sense to me. Which is to say: not at all, then all at once, until I lose that train of thought and find myself confused all over again. Every time I watch that movie, I take something different away from it, and it was the same when I was trying to put the pieces of Natalie's story together. But, if you like Donnie Darko, I could easily see you enjoying this book for the same reasons.

I loved this novel. I love that it leaves so much unanswered while answering so much. I love that it made me question so much. And I love that it's a love story on so many different levels. Honestly, I loved pretty much everything about The Love That Split the World. It was breathtaking...inside and out.

GIF it to me straight:

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.

Find Emily:

Twitter | Goodreads


  1. so um wow. I have this one on my trb for the spring and so happy to see you loved it so much.

  2. I have been hearing wonderful things about this book. From the cover to the story it sounds so good, but I am worried that the magical realism won't be for me. Maybe I'll borrow it from the library and then if I love it I can get a copy.


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