Split -- Swati Avasthi
Taking a beating isn't that remarkable in our family. It's not as if the earth shatters or time stops. You get up the next day and go to school. Maybe you work a little harder to keep up the everything's-fine-we're-perfect image, but overall, you just keep moving at the speed of your life.
For sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon, that's true until it isn't anymore. When he shows up on his brother Christian's doorstep—a brother he hasn't seen or communicated with in five years—he's just driven nineteen hours straight, has under $4 to his name, and is sporting a multitude of cuts, bruises and a split lip.
Pros: Everything. I loved this one. It dealt with domestic violence, spousal and child abuse in a realistic, believable way. While there were some utterly gut-wrenching, horrifying moments, I never felt that it was exploitative, and I never felt that Avasthi was working from a list of statistics about domestic abuse. (A lot of books that deal with Serious Issues do feel like that, so I think it's worth noting that Split didn't.)
The relationship between Jace and Christian is excellent, but the relationships between Jace and Mirriam and Mirriam and Christian are also complicated and satisfying. Mirriam isn't just "Christian's girlfriend" or a foil for Jace, she's a three-dimensional, believable person who is thrown a serious curveball and who steps right up to it.
Cons: Jace, on occasion, sounded a tad older than sixteen, and I never felt that their parents became more than stock characters (the highly-educated, abusive father; the meek mother who can't leave him), but, as the story was about Jace and Christian, that wasn't a huge problem for me.
Recommended to: People looking for a story about a complex relationship between brothers, for a book that explores heavy-duty issues without being issue-driven. Fans of Breathing Underwater, Inexcusable, and similar titles should definitely give this one a read.
Book source: ILLed through my library.