An interesting premise that descends into gobbledy-gook at the end due to the need for a happy ending.

Written by
Emily Henry in 2016

Yeah, I really shouldn’t get suckered into reading young adult books, because it’s not really aimed at old fogies like myself. But, some of them are quite good, and are still able to explore complex themes within the bounds of a younger audience. I think that’s what The Love that Split the World tries to do, but it’s not quite successful, because it ends up being a soppy romance that’s literally out of this world. Or in it. Or something.

Natalie Cleary is about to graduate high school and go to an Ivy League university. Big change from a small town girl in rural Kentucky. But she’s also an American-Indian who was adopted by white middle class parents, which admittedly makes for a confusing life if one thinks too much about it. Which she does.

She’s also got quite a mysterious gift, which is to see people who shouldn’t be there. Like Grandmother, who appears to her at night and tells her stories, many of which are American-Indian in origin. Of course, this shit would scare the crap out of anybody, but Natalie feels Grandmother is the only one who knows and understands her. Which…er is actually a clue about Grandmother.

So aside from Grandmother, Natalie begins to see Beau, a boy who shouldn’t exist, yet does. And the rest of the world is also different here and there. Sometimes, it’s subtle, a door is a different colour. Or people seem not to know who she is at all. As if she doesn’t exist. And she has three months to find out why, because that’s the deadline Grandmother gives her.

It’s a hard book to really classify, apart from young adult science fiction. Because there’s elements of a lot of stuff. Though there’s no futurology or aliens, there is a bit of time travel though, and parallel universes which actually makes no sense. There’s also teenage romance and that sort of thing, which is just as awkward as I remember it. Not fondly of course.

The book does talk a lot about identity, and belonging. I mean, an American Indian adopted from a reserve in rural Kentucky sticks out like a nail in your foot. Natalie not only has to deal with any prejudice or strange looks, but also the inherent questions she asks about her adoption by white middle class people. The most obvious being: why?

It’s actually an interesting read, and the premise of how one’s identity shapes one’s life and sensitivities is quite powerful. Though I doubt that power could actually be used in time travel and wormholes to parallel universes. Also, this book violates causality. A LOT.

Taking aside the ending, the journey was quite interesting. I mean, the ending was silly, but nonetheless it was worth reading The Love that Split the World, and understanding a different type of pain and sense of want. Perhaps if that’s what you’d take out of it, then the ending might be forgiven.


Three wormholes out of five. Plus half a small porch.

Read this if you…

Like your angsty teenage romance as awkward and strange as possible.

Skip this if you…

Are from a parallel universe.


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