When I worked on a public information desk, it was one of the most common questions from teens: where are the books on abuse? Sometime readers related to the stories, sometimes they just wanted to read about awful things happening to someone else, and sometimes it was a mix of the two.
Split, by Swati Avasthi, is one of the most emotionally sophisticated teen books I’ve read about abuse in a long time.
Jace’s father beats Jace’s mother, beat Jace’s brother Christian until Christian ran away from home, and then beat Jace. After their last bloody fight, Jace gets in his car and drives all night from Chicago to Albuquerque to find his brother.
But there’s something else. Jace isn’t just a victim—he’s also a perpetrator. The night he hit his father in self-defense, he hit someone else first. Someone he thought he loved.
What does it mean to be an abuser? What does it mean to hurt someone? When you have done something unforgiveable, can you—and the people around you—ever move on?
These are complicated questions, and questions we don’t talk about enough. Split tackles them honestly and with grace.
And if you’re looking for even more books on abuse and domestic violence, you can try Push, the novel that inspired the movie Precious; The Rules of Survival; A Child Called It; or Inexcusable.
But be prepared: these books can be graphic, scary, and painful.