If you’re looking for a little escape within the world of contemporary young adult fiction (especially during these turbulent political times), look no further than The Love that Split the World.
Natalie Cleary’s life seems charmed.
It’s her last summer in the small Kentucky town she grew up in, and she’s off to her dream college after that. She’s just broken up with the boyfriend she’s had for years and she’s ready to start over. That’s when things start to get weird. She’ll blink, and suddenly her town will become rolling hills and scattered buffalo. At first, it flips right back. But then it starts taking longer to return to “normal.” One night, she has a dream where she is visited by an old, wise woman she calls Grandmother, who tells Natalie that she has “three months to save him.” Save who? That’s what Natalie’s not sure about. But the very next night, the world flips again, and there he is—Beau. The more time she spends with him, the more she starts to understand that it’s him she has to save—and it will change her entire future to do it.
Wait, the world “flips”?
Well, sort of. The world has been “flipping” for longer than Natalie realized. You see, Natalie is of Native American ancestry—she was adopted by the Clearys at a young age. Grandmother is a wise old woman who has visited Natalie in her dreams and told her Native American folktales and legends since she was a very small child. But this is the first time Grandmother has issued any sort of warning. The Love that Split the World follows Natalie as she tries to figure out what’s going on in her head, and Grandmother is a big part of her revelations. For example, Natalie’s best friend can’t see Beau in the normal world, but Beau lives in an alternate universe of sorts where her best friend and ex-boyfriend also exist—but there’s only one Natalie, and only one Beau. It’s all part of the magic and the mystery! (That’s me saying I’m not going to say anymore.)
This sounds complicated.
Here’s the beauty of Emily Henry’s writing—yes, the plot sounds complicated when explained by a plebian like myself. But when you’re reading the book, when you’re immersed deep into Natalie Cleary’s world? It’s simple. It makes sense. And it will break your damn heart, in the best way possible. It’s not without issues—I have read some critiques of Henry’s representation of Native American cultures, and I found Natalie to be extremely frustrating at times. But Beau is completely swoon-worthy, which makes it worth the read.
The Love that Split the World gets an A- from me.
Almost solely because I doubt I’ll read it again, but it was still a beautiful book (and that cover, yo!).