Sometimes I pick up a book and it just looks so pretty that I buy it on the spot. Sometimes I’m scrolling through Instagram and someone has the prettiest scene surrounding the book, and I just have to buy it to have a piece of that perfection. 8/10 times I’m usually pretty pleased with my irrational way to pick something to read so rapidly. The Love That Split the World was not one of the greater majority. While I did not adore this book, I definitely think it is one that will appeal to a slew of readers.
Natalie Cleary is an adopted daughter of a loving family. She sees “Others” (they are apparitions) that come at night, like Grandmother, or that appear in another world entirely, like Beau. There was just far too much happening in the book for me to be able to enjoy it fully.
You have adoption guilt, mental illness, small town football Fridays, Native American folk tales, time/space travel, and first love tinged with heartbreak all within the first ten chapters. Any one of those things seem like they make for some great YA, but I really felt like they were thrown in a somewhat haphazard plot line. It seems like everywhere, everyone is saying that this book reads like The Time Traveler’s Wife mixed with Friday Night Lights. While I loved, and I mean LOVED, The Time Traveler’s Wife I really don’t see how such a comparison makes vivid sense.
First of all let’s talk about all of the wonderful parts of the story. First of all, Emily Henry is a beautiful writer. There were so many quotes I pulled into my journal to keep forever. It cannot be “easy” to depict and weave a tale through time and separate worlds, and she does a really eloquent job of keeping the reader focused on where they are. The book is rich with a strong female character, realistic sexual situations, and really fun versions of every “type” of kid you went to high school with. I really think that Emily Henry does a great job depicting how awful being a Senior in high school is. I don’t know if I had ever felt impending doom mixed with such resounding joy like I did in May 2009. On page four I realized it must have felt the same way to Natalie Cleary.
Life felt like a blender that wanted to eat me.
Girl, I get it. Preach.
Natalie and Beau’s love story is so lovely. Beau might be the favorite romantic interest in a YA novel I’ve read in a while. I already knew I adored him long before he said probably the sweetest thing Natalie Cleary (and maybe me) ever heard.
I’m not sure the world and me are as complicated as you think, Natalie. I didn’t mean to choose you or anything. I just know if I only get to build one porch in my life, I’d like it to be yours, and if there’s one person I never have to hurt or disappoint, I’d want that to be you too.”
Natalie Cleary is hilarious. At one point she mentions that wearing heels makes about as much sense as wearing a pubic wig. Which made me laugh out loud, really hard. She is also quite the feminist, which was really fun to read. Natalie definitely has enough of “every girl” for every reader to relate to.
Emily Henry seriously gave her characters some amazing one-liners, like when Natalie describes what her last swig of hard liquor tasted like.
That’s what Satan’s pee tastes like when he has a urinary tract infection.
Or that time that Natalie called every decision making adult chaperoning senior week festivities into question.
At ten o’clock, they project a Nicholas Sparks movie in the gym, which seems like asking someone in a nostalgic, sensitive, emotionally heightened state to get impregnated in a bathroom stall, but hell!
I know I mentioned it before, but I feel like there were just way too many elements packed into one novel.
Being able to identify who Grandmother was quite early in the novel detracted from the overall story for me as a reader. At times I thought that the folk-tales were taking me away from the love story, or the quest to find the boy who needed saving. There were just so.many.things. that would have made an individual theme exciting and interesting, but throwing them together made each of them a little bit dimmer.
I wish that the book was just about Natalie, and Beau, and being in love and that there was a sprinkle of the time travel elements woven into the fabric.
Then ending was such an “ugh” moment for me. I knew that was going to happen, but I just kept hoping Emily Henry wasn’t going to do us like she did. All in all, I think that if you are into the whimsy of time travel and stepping between worlds, folk tales, and instant love–you should definitely give this a read.
I want to know what YOU thought of it, so shoot me an email or let me know on Instagram!