Natalie is not like most other girls in her small Kentucky town, and it’s not the fact that she’s adopted and half Native American that sets her apart – it’s that ever since she was a little girl, she’s been visited by an old woman who tells her stories in the night. An old woman whom no one else can see, and no one else believes exists. And that woman, known to Natalie only as “Grandmother” has just told her that she has three months to save “him.” Natalie doesn’t know who Grandmother means, and the old woman disappears before Natalie gets the chance to ask, but the events that are going to change her life forever have already been set into motion.
In the coming days, Natalie begins to realize that she can slip between worlds, into an alternate reality of her hometown but with slight differences – the main one being Beau, a boy unlike any other she’s ever met. Beau and Natalie soon realize that though everyone else they know has a double in each world, she and Beau are unique, and as they are drawn closer together, Natalie can’t help but wonder if Beau is the “him” Grandmother wants her to save.
Author Emily Henry manages to draw together a lot of elements I really like to tell Natalie’s story – Native American folklore, spirituality, psychology, and feminism (okay, okay, I was most excited about the feminism. But I also liked the other stuff!). Henry’s vision is sprawling, and even as you think you have puzzled out just what is going on, the story swerves to the side and keeps going in another direction. Besides jumping between worlds, falling in love, and preparing to leave for college in just a few weeks, Natalie’s also coping with finding herself, realizing that she’s never quite dealt with her adoption or come to terms with her mixed identity. It’s Natalie’s journey that I was most drawn to, although the jumping between worlds is admittedly very cool.
Natalie’s narrative arc is bolstered by an impressive cast of supporting characters, of which I am most fond of Natalie’s best friend Megan, in whom she confides everything (how refreshing for a teen to be going through something supernatural and not have to keep it all to themselves!), and Alice Chan, a researcher at Northern Kentucky University who studies the kind of travel between worlds that Natalie is experiencing. Though The Love That Split the World is a love story through and through, I adore the way the love story is told with attention paid to social issues, ones that young girls really do need to be exposed to in the literature they read – any novel that has an adult encouraging a young girl to “disable the patriarchy” is okay by me. If you like your romance with a touch of speculative fiction and small-town drama, you’re going to want to pick this one up.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
In addition to posting our thoughts about this great book, we are also super excited to be taking part in the Blog Tour for The Love That Split the World! To celebrate, we have a finished copy of the book to give away – just use the Rafflecopter below to enter!