This is a superbly fun book, seeing the opportunity of being blindsided by life as a way of reassessing what’s really important, driving a new self of respect and finding out some home truths along the way. Kays protagonist is lovely, sweet Ally, who wakes up on her girlfriends’ boat one morning to discover herself unceremoniously dumped. Shell shocked by this turn of events, and without a job, home or lover she snatches Malcomb ‘their’ cat and runs for her father’s home up north. He is a loving father, full of patience, widowed and understanding the pain of loss of love, and it’s great to read a story where an LGBT character returns to a loving home. Her father encourages her to get back in touch with old friend and it’s here the novel starts to pick up speed, she reconnects with old friend Jeremy, in kind of the same situation as her.
Together they 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. Their ‘RomCom’ adventure together beings to roll ( or unravel) from here, and it’s laugh out loud funny. Kay writes with a real warmth, highlighting element of her characters personalities to give the reader insight to what might really being go on here, suggesting in small ways a deeper more complex movement happening, and nothing in the lives of these people is easy, we learn more about Ally and her Ex Emily as they discuss the return of the cat in email exchanges, this is complicated, messy, emotionally cringy stuff, real life in other words. Proper lesbian drama as played out in thousands of kitchens across the UK.
I loved it, Kay drips us information and we watch as the characters learn a little more about themselves, and what needs to change to make this lives better. It’s not all happy stuff either, and with the marathon running plot driving things on, we get a fully rounded feeling of the main protagonists sometimes difficult lives. Jeremy is living with depression and Jay handles this with a deft poise which allows a real dignity to ground him. For a debut novel this is a lovely insight into Kays capacity to generate warm engaging characters who are imperfect, real and adorable, she gives this book a real heart.
The Split is a great book, really funny, with a huge focus on family and found family in particular, showing us how important our friendships are, and how an adventure can expose us to change, our fears and the real things we crave. It’s a book about learning, love, how not to break up, and how we can be gently nudged by our own deeper needs and staunch friendships into a safer, happier place. It’s also a book about happy lesbians, joyful! Recommended.
Out now £14.99