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Pants' Books & Stuff!

Hi there! I imagine you must be wondering what the heck is up with my blog name. The short answer is, Pants has become my internet handle in a lot of places where I hang out (somehow). I mainly read YA and comics, and I also frequently read speculative fiction of pretty much any kind. My other hobbies include watching anime and playing video games. Other random tidbits: I have a Bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Masters in Library and Information Sciences. I also have an affinity for tea.
Split - Swati Avasthi
Review originally posted here.

Why I Read It: This book has received many favourable reviews from bloggers I trust and/or have similar tastes with.

All right, if you guys read the summary of this, you may have noticed that it's one of THOSE YA books: an Issue book. The dreaded DARKNESS of YA that all those Fancy Newspaper editors/writers/whatevers keep complaining about. I'm not crazy about Issues books myself, but when they're done well, I love the pants off them (great examples of this are Speak or Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson). This book, thankfully, was quite good.

This novel really explores the issue of domestic abuse from all angles. Avasthi has personally worked with women who have been in this kind of situation and she really shines the light on why people stay with abusers. There were scenes in this book that were just... horrifying. Sometimes it was a visceral reaction, like when Jace's dad beats the shit out of him, others was because the psychological abuse taking place was just too messed up (the "apology" scene comes to mind here.) There are scenes in this book that are really disturbing; I'm an emotional person, but I'm not very squeamish, so I don't say it lightly when I say that there were times when I needed to put this book down and just take a moment.

I also appreciated the introspection that took place in Jace. He displays behavioural patterns that he obviously picked up from living under the same roof as his father and this very clearly scares the shit out of him, and for good reason. But despite the bad things he's done, I still liked him and just wanted him to be okay. Even when I found out that he beat the shit out of his girlfriend, I thought: "Oh no!!" when she put out a warrant for his arrest. And then I was like "WAIT A MINUTE WHAT THE HELL" because I shouldn't feel bad for someone who beats the shit out of his girlfriend! EVER. And Jace knows that he shouldn't be pitied. Hell, he WANTED his ex-girlfriend to put out the warrant because she was trying to make amends; she was forgiving him and he wanted her to realize that THAT SHIT IS NOT OKAY EVER. And I loved Jace for that. He did a horrible thing, yes, but he never tried to justify it, or tried to cover it up.

And while he did at times try to cover up for his father's behaviour, I appreciated that Avasthi was trying to show why people wouldn't want to tell the world the truth about an abusive parent: because even though Jace's dad was an obvious asshole and needed to be put behind bars, he was still Jace's DAD in some ways. Jace had moments with him, and of course that doesn't redeem anything he's done, but Avasthi showed me that he was still a human being, and THAT'S why Jace had difficulties denouncing him and saying the truth. Again, this book is incredibly insightful in regards to WHY people don't speak out when they're being abused, and it does so from many different angles.

As much as this book is about abuse, it's just as much about family. Jace's relationship with his older brother Christian is ridiculously unstable, and while I was frustrated with Christian, I could see why he acted the way he did: it took a lot of work to stay hidden from his father and Jace does threaten to undo that. The relationship between the two undergoes an obvious transformation, but I was pulled in by it; it didn't come on too quickly and it grew and changed steadily.

The ONLY nitpick I had with the book, and this is probably just me, is that the dialogue felt stilted sometimes. I'm not sure WHY it felt that way to me, but it did. Especially with Miriam. Most of the time though the dialogue flowed wonderfully and felt authentic, so this isn't a huge complaint by any stretch.

Final Verdict: I don't think I've ever come across a more insightful look into the realities of domestic abuse. This book is already different in that it looks at what happens AFTER someone has escaped the abuser and needs to figure out what to do, but it also looks at the situation from all directions, and sheds light on why people tolerate living with an abuser, or make excuses for them. There are many scenes which are potentially triggering, and which made me uncomfortable (but these scenes are never gratuitous), so that's something to take heed of before reading. If that doesn't bother you, then I strongly recommend picking this up.