Emily Henry‘s stunning debut novel, The Love That Split the World, is one of the most thought provoking and intuitive books that I’ve read. It had me hooked from the first chapter, and I learned that there is much more to this novel than what meets the eye. Henry gave us a story to remember; a story so complex that it reaches into the deepest parts of our understanding. It’s not a story that’s too difficult to follow, but it does make you think. About yourself, about the world, about the unknown.
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into the unknown for the chance to build and create a whole new world with the boy that she loves.
Her last summer in her small hometown in Kentucky is off to a magical start, until she starts to see “wrong things” in her world. At first, they are just momentary glimpses, like her front door appearing red instead is usual green, and where the garden store once was, a pre-school now stands. However, when her whole town starts disappearing for hours and replaced by rolling hills and gazing buffalo, Natalie knows that something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind, story-telling and yet mysterious apparition that she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The following night Natalie meets a beautiful boy named Beau under the stadium lights of her high school football field, and it’s as if time just stops and everything else in the world ceases to exist. Nothing else exists except from Natalie and Beau.
The Love That Split the World 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 and what’s to come of our lives, but also of all the roads and paths that we’ve left untaken in our lives, and where they led.
The Love That Split the World is a wonderfully written, introspective novel of surprising depth, and there’s a lot to love about it. The character development throughout the story is astonishing, and the book tackles major themes that everyone can relate to: self-acceptance and family. The beauty, intelligence and profundity of this book are staggering, and, for me, there is so much more to this novel that what there appears to be at a first glance.
The book is littered with messages, teaching us the secrets of life and the wonders of the stars. Henry shows us the very best and worst that life has to offer, and at the same time consoles us with her words. She teaches us about the best things in life, and comforts us on how to get through the harder parts. With her words, Henry shows us how to get up after being knocked down, and gives us words to keep in our hearts to remember that that there are always good things to be found in the bad.
One of my favourite passages from the novel teaches us that all the good, all the bad parts of our lives are worth it, because in the end we end up right where we’re supposed to be:
“And when you see those good things–and I promise you, there are so many good things–they’re going to be so much brighter for you than they are for other people, just like the abyss always seems deeper and bigger when you stare at it. If you stick it out, it’s all going to feel worth it in the end. Every moment you live, every darkness you face, they’ll all feel worth it when you’re staring light in the face.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.
Another moving moment in the book, is when we learn through Natalie the lesson of finding the beauty in loss and pain and being able to look back on such times and see them for what they are, and not for the hurt. She says:
“Sometimes the most beautiful moments in our lives are things that hurt badly at the time. We only see them for what they really were when we stand at the very end and look back.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.
Henry also talks about soulmates, and the deeper connection that we have with people that we can’t always explain. She tells us in the most cleverest way, without actually mentioning soulmates, about the profound effect that these people can have in our lives:
“Recognising 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 are you in this exact moment ever again and believing, against all odds, you will continue to belong to one another despite that.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.
Another passage that I love from this novel, is when “Grandmother” tells Natalie that she should not be afraid to either stay or move on, as long as what she does is right for her. She says:
“No matter how hard it feels, you don’t need to be afraid to move on, and you don’t need to be afraid to stay either. There’s always more to see and feel.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.
Henry also tells us the undeniable truth about love, that when it comes down to it, it can be the very thing that destroys us. But at the same time, be the very thing that builds us back up:
“It’s true that nothing has the potential to hurt so much as loving someone, but nothing heals like it either.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.
Lastly, she prepares us for growing up into adulthood, but reminds us of the one thing that will get us through and make it worth it. She says:
“Growing up is going to hurt. Only you can decide if the pain is worth the love.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.
It is impossible to say that whilst reading The Love That Splits the World that I learned only one thing. I took so many life secrets from this novel and held them close to my heart, and I haven’t forgotten Henry’s words since I closed the cover. I have a feeling that I will carry these words, and this book, with me wherever I may go and wherever life takes me. And if one thing stands out more than any other in this book, for me, it is this:
“Love is giving the world away, and being loved is having the whole world to give.” – Emily Henry, The Love That Splits the World.