A Review of The Love that Split the World, by Emily Henry

The Love That Split the World

Goodreads Rating: 4.20 Stars
400 pages
Razorbill Publishing
Get it here!

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

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Quick Reasons: strong story-telling; huge nods to oral narratives and origin/creation stories; OMG, the 91% mark!; gut-wrenching, can’t-catch-your-breath, want-to-throw-your-Kindle revelations; huge personality, unique twists, quirky and awesome characters; diverse read

I need to stop listing out reasons above or I’ll never write my review…BUT OH. MAH. GOSH. that 91% mark?! I swear I came much too close to throwing my Kindle at the wall for comfort. When that revelation hit, it felt like the world was yanked out from under me…much how I feel Natalie herself must have felt, honestly. I just… I can’t even. I’m getting goosebumps now, thinking about it!

Also, look at that cover! It’s so freaking gorgeous, and now that I’ve finished the book…I just… it so fits with the story. Like, whoever designed this cover did a fantastic job on it. For one, it’s artwork. For two, when coupled with the story itself… Let me just hang this book on my walls to admire for the rest of forever. Can I? Please?

“I guess I feel like someone forgot to write down my beginning, and I just showed up in the middle of things, in time for this.” I hold my arms up in the sticky night air as if hugging the sky. “And I don’t really get what I’m supposed to do with the present because I can’t see the whole picture.”

I spent like…half an hour, at least, mooing like a dying cow when my husband got home and asked me what was wrong. And to think just yesterday, I was talking to people about how I’m usually a Stone-Cold Heart when it comes to books—they hurt, but not in a “Mahgosh, I’m dying” type way. This book? This book slaughtered me; I apologize if my review is, therefore, not as coherent as it could be. I’m still picking pieces of rainbow soul-shards off the floor where they scattered. Also, future readers: the 91% mark is a killer. You have been warned. Tread carefully.

I think the best thing about this book is that plot-twist. Don’t get me wrong! The characters are great, and the deliciously fluffy romance bits are heart-boiling and sticky-sweet… but that plot twist, man! That plot twist MAKES this book. In fact, the whole premise sheared the edges off this read and took it from “just another time travel cliche” into a whole universe all it’s own. But seriously, guys, I have a question: what IS it about time travel that brings out the heart-crushing, soul-shattering demons in authors? Like…why do you do this to me?! I can’t read more of your beautiful books if I’m ground into fine glitter-dust all over the floor, you know.

I don’t believe in love at first sight but maybe this is as close as it gets: seeing someone, a person you have no business loving, on a football field one night and thinking, I want you to be mine and I want to be yours. Lying on a closet floor with someone and thinking, I shouldn’t know you but I do. Recognizing someone as a part of you before they’ve even become that person in your life, and knowing, without a doubt, that neither of you will ever be who you are in this exact moment ever again and believing, against all odds, you will continue to belong to one another despite that.

The main characters are diverse and wholly their own. There are so many complex, intriguing facets of their personal lives—before and after the big bang, as I’m forever going to know it now—I fell in love with them, separately and together, almost instantly. Theirs is a love worth risking it all for; theirs a chemistry that could melt glaciers and beat out the sun. I mean seriously, these characters are sturdy in themselves…but even better together. I was rooting for them the entire read. I also really enjoyed seeing how the author played with them in the time-travel aspect: while the main two remain wholly unique/their own, the rest of the cast jumped and shifted depending on the time/world, and it was a ton of fun (and sometimes entertaining!) to see the ways people could be different.

The plot is also unique, and interspersed between the action/fast-paced chapters are fragments of oral narratives. I really loved reading these sections, and seeing how the stories came to play later on in the story. The fact that these moments are mostly dialogue, with Grandmother doing most of the talking, really helped to drive home to atmosphere—the sort of “around the campfire, beneath the stars” feel that oral narratives come most to life with. The introduction of these stories brought a new and beautiful aspect to the read.

“And sometimes, we don’t talk about things because we don’t want to be comforted. We don’t want anyone to tell us it wasn’t our fault, or that they forgive us, or that we did the best we could. We want to hold on to that pain because we think that’s what we deserve. We worry that if we let it go, we’re dishonoring it.”

I just… I cannot explain coherently the many ways I ADORE this read. This leaped immediately to the very top of my “all-time favorites” list; I don’t think it’ll be knocked off that pedestal for a long time to come. This is definitely a book I’ll be returning to in the future; it deserves more than one read. I definitely recommend to lovers of oral narratives/creation stories, time-travel, and romances that break all the rules. This book? You need to buy it; love it; cherish it. I know I already do.