The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry is a truly beautiful novel. I had been highly anticipating it’s debut ever since I laid my eyes on the stunning cover. It’s pitched as a contemporary romance heavily laced with time travel, or as Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife. Having never read / seen either of those, they didn’t sway my decision in either direction, although after reading I began to think that comparison is inaccurate. My general feeling is that The Love That Split the World is a magical realism novel with hints of sci-fi. It follows a girl named Natalie who receives hypnopompic visions from a seemingly all knowing visitor named Grandmother. When the novel begins, Natalie gets her last visit and is warned by Grandmother that she has three weeks to save him. Having no idea who the him is, Natalie sets out to solve the mystery and save someone’s life.
Emily Henry did an amazing job with this novel, to the point that it’s hard to believe it’s her debut. Every single character is fully fleshed out, no matter how minor a role they may play. For instance, Natalie’s brother Jack has less than the equivalent of one full paragraph written about him throughout the book but I have an incredibly strong grasp on his character from the pertinent pieces of information Henry offered. I felt so impressed upon finishing and reflecting on this point. While the novel is a contemporary romance, it’s the friendship aspect that made it a worthwhile read. Natalie and her best friend Meg are made for each other. They have the most intelligent conversations, their humor perfectly compliments one another, and they love and trust each other completely. Meg even believes in Natalie’s visits from Grandmother. That’s friendship right there. I seem to the only one of my friends who guessed one of the twists early on but it in no way detracted from my reading experience. There’s a ton of mystery and intrigue to keep you interested even if you solve one aspect.
There were only two complaints I had about this book but neither of them at all hindered my glowing opinion of the story. The Love That Split the World is beautifully written, well thought out, accomplishes everything it sets out to do and then some, follows a diverse character, and portrays a realistic array of relationships that will have you emotionally invested in every character. With all of that being said, the one relationship that it took me a little while to buy was the one between Natalie and her love interest Beau. Their attraction was a bit insta-lovey for my liking and even after I accepted it, I still felt like Natalie was too good for Beau and that I must be missing something. My second complaint is a spoiler so instead of writing it here, I’ll leave you with a link to the Spines With Wines Book Club discussion.
Final Thoughts: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry is a stunning and genre-bending debut novel. If you appreciate magical realism and science fiction, you’ll definitely be intrigued by Natalie’s story and the mysterious visits she receives from Grandmother. The book explores just about every relationship a teenager could have but it’s the friendship between Natalie and Meg that really stands out. If you’re on the fence about this one I would definitely recommend reading it!
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. (via Goodreads)