The Split by Laura Kay – Book Review

Title: The Split (review copy)

Author: Laura Kay

Genre: Contemporary, Dramedy, Found Family, Romance

Blurb from Goodreads

Ally’s relationship is over and she’s taking the cat…

Wounded and betrayed, after being dumped by her girlfriend, Ally makes off to her dad’s in Sheffield with the one thing that might soothe the pain and force her ex to speak to her again: Emily’s cat, Malcolm.

Back home and forced into a ‘date’ by their parents, Ally and her first ever beard, Jeremy, come up with a ridiculous plan to win their exes back… to revenge-run a half marathon.

Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills… or will their ridiculous plan pay off…?

My Review

Ally’s relationship is over and she’s taking the cat… I have to say I was immediately drawn to this tag line. I imagined so many different scenarios and the type of person Ally could be in my head so I was thrilled when I got a copy of this book.

And it did not let me down.

It’s such a wonderfully warm-hearted story. Incredibly well written, very funny, and filled with lots of those little touches that made these characters come alive on the page.

Ally finds herself unceremoniously dumped by her girlfriend Emily. She didn’t see it coming. She found herself completely lost …and not to mind homeless and jobless as she was living on Emily’s boat and recently had left her job due to it not being something that only brought her stress. So when Emily leaves for the day after the dumping Ally scrambles a few things together … including Emily’s cat! And heads for home to stay with her dad.

Once home Emily’s dad gently encourages her to get back in touch with childhood friend Jeremy, who himself has returned home post a relationship breakup, and together these two begin to forge a new lives for themselves.

This is such a great story.

I absolutely adored the friendship between Ally and Jeremy. If you love the found family trope, and/or buddy movie type themes then you’ll love this book! I think the rediscovered friendship between the two illustrated perfectly how sometimes we can lose our key identities to love. How maybe we change for our partner, or maybe we put too much pressure on them to be our everything … through this friendship Ally was able to learn so much about herself. The book starts by showing Emily as somewhat heartless for how she dumps Ally… and while I never became Emily’s number one fan nor hoped that she and Ally would get back together, through Ally’s emotional journey it became possible to see perhaps where Emily was coming from with regards to the breakup. Really I adored that it was messy. That it was complicated. Because I think any serious romantic relationship is. When you get that tangled with another person it’s just not that straight forward to ‘consciously uncouple’ if the relationship ends.

Throughout the breakup Ally and Emily emailed each other. It started because of the cat. Malcolm was seemingly Emily’s cat. If memory serves I think he was a gift from her family for her birthday… but Ally took the cat mostly because she loved the cat more but also because she thought it would be a way of getting Emily’s attention.

I adored how this taking of the cat seemed at times supremely petty…

I mean who doesn’t get petty if the love of your life tells you they wanna break up with you and are seeing someone else… that someone else being Sara with no H… and of course every time Ally referenced Sara she used that H in her emails. It just showed this brilliantly petulant side to Ally. Which I think is incredibly human. I would be salty if I was dumped too and somehow became engaged in email correspondence with my ex that I was still in love with. On one hand I’d like to show them I’d moved on [a la I’m breezy!] but on the other I’d want to do little annoying things to irk them, and perhaps try to hurt them because I’d want them to feel something akin to my pain.

And when Ally tried to casually slip in to the email correspondence about how she’d met another girl named Jo… well it wasn’t subtle. It was a bit cringe because you’d want Ally to just let Emily go and be the bigger person. I wanted Ally to be really in to Jo… but life isn’t like that. We do petty, stupid things. Our hearts take time healing and sometimes we are so busy looking backwards that we miss the possibilities ahead of us. And this book illustrated that complexity of the heart and what it wants perfectly.

There’s so much to enjoy in this book. More high-points are that:

  • There is great lesbian, gay, and bi representation.
  • There’s emphasis on the importance of friendship as family.

My two favourite characters were Jeremy and Ally’s dad. Both were just so warm and caring in such different ways. And both were also quite complicated characters.

Jeremy was living with depression, and showed how that illness is one that never leaves you; that it ebbs and flows through life, and how you need to develop coping strategies for it.

And Ally’s dad was a quiet widower with so much bubbling under the surface. He was sweet. Awkward. Caring. Protective. Really comforting. He truly felt like home.

And the whole marathon storyline that runs throughout the novel…. brilliant! Really gave both the book and characters much needed focus and direction.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary fiction. It’s incredibly funny and at times bittersweet, but it finishes with this great sense of hope and positivity. A truly engaging story with brilliant characters.

*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*

Publishing 18th March 2021, Quercus

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