I’m delighted to participate in the blog blast for Laura Kay’s debut novel, The Split, published by Quercus Books.
Disclaimer: I received this as an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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…?
If you read my Author Q&A with Laura, you’ll have an idea about how I feel about this one. This was one of my Most Anticipated Books for January – June and, I’m happy to report, it lived up to the (self imposed) hype!
Straight away, the reader meets Ally. Though it’s a romantic comedy, I would say, it starts off a bit more like a tragicomedy as Ally is sent packing when she’s dumped by her girlfriend, Emily. Amongst the anguish, though, we get the first hint of the laugh-out-loud humour as Ally takes off with Malcolm, Emily’s rather grumpy cat.
I loved going on a journey with Ally throughout this book, she really goes through a spectrum of emotions – from anger and sadness following her breakup to acceptance and a newfound happiness as she navigates marathon training, old friendships and potential new ones – and I was rooting for her throughout. Though she did make some questionable decisions (one of them would be deciding to run a marathon in the first place I, as a person who needs a lie down after a certain personal trainer’s workout designed for children has been completed, personally think 😂), I wanted the best for her – an impressive feat from a debut author, considering a lot of protagonists aren’t as easy to love 😂.
On this journey, we encounter plenty of interesting characters from Ally’s Dad to her ex Emily – my favourite of which has to be Jeremy, no question. He was funny, interesting and I really wanted him to be my best mate by the end of it! Kay also explores mental health through his character, in particular depression, and I don’t think I’ve seen such an honest portrayal before (or at least one that isn’t romanticised for plot, which I never understood). I loved how Jeremy helped move the plot along and the interaction between him and Ally was funny, sweet and tender – I just loved them together!
I also really appreciated the concept of the emails within each chapter, as Ally’s personality shone through (I personally loved the parts where she got the name of Emily’s fling wrong, very petty indeed!) and it gave the reader a great insight into the two women and their relationship. As much as I would’ve liked to read their relationship in detail, these emails gave an insight that truly allows the reader to feel every moment of their relationship from the highs to the lows.
I’m definitely not a runner but I loved the concept of Jeremy and Ally running a local half marathon. It was a revenge/get them back plot with a difference and I loved reading their journey from reluctant runners to marathon runners – this part was a delight to read and I’m pretty sure, if this was real, they’d find me cheering them on in the crowd.
Though I’ve only paid Sheffield a fleeting visit a while ago, Kay has a way of making everything feel familiar. I couldn’t help but feel like I was there at the table, enjoying fish and chips with Ally and her Dad, or tucking into a delicious sweet treat elsewhere.
The Split is everything I wanted it to be and more. I assumed it would be a romance but it was so much more. It was a story of friendship, finding yourself and figuring out how to get out of a rut. I’m not a runner but, if I were you, I’d be running to the bookshop (or, you know, wherever you get your books from in a global pandemic) to pick this one up.
You can buy this book here.
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