I’ve been thinking about divorce a lot recently. My partner of the last four years has yet to finalise his, mine came through almost three years ago, and yet there is still a taboo that stops us talking about it. His children don’t even know that I was married before we met, because society tells us that to be a divorced woman in her thirties is wrong, somehow.
Split takes that taboo, that “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach that we are expected to have towards divorce, and turns it on its head. This book is filled with tales of happy divorces, sad divorces, necessary divorces and divorces that remind us of animated green ogres. Let me quantify that last statement, Chip Zdarsky – yes, that Chip Zdarsky, Howard the Duck, Sex Criminals and Star-Lords butt Chip Zdarsk – opens the book with a tale at once hilarious and heartbreaking, and the feels don’t stop there. I would describe this book as an emotional rollercoaster, but I despise that phrase and consider it to be lazy writing. Let me try harder…
Split is a collection of sixteen tales of divorce written by a diverse cast of women and men, from a range of counties and background. Some of the tales, such as Said/Unsaid, tell of the amicable, even friendly, divorce that Hollywood tells us is impossible. It is written wth such beauty and clarity, and such an emotional awareness, that I keep going back to reread it, just to feel both the beauty and the anguish of author William Henderson.
Bo Abeille fills her tale, Lady, with the gut-wrenching pain that comes with the end of love. The way that she explains the ritual splitting of possession, the dividing up of record collections, books and the ephemera of a life shared, touched a nerve buried deep within me (especially as I still don’t have my boxed set of FreakAngels back), but her story also gives hope, the reminder that there is life after divorce.
If I’m making this book sound heavy and painful, at times it is. But there is beauty in here too, and most importantly hope. The collection is subtitled true stories about divorce and what happens next, and for me that is the most important thing about this book. There is a next. Forget what society tells you, forget the fact that you might lose friends and alienate family, there is life after divorce. Should you read Split if you are divorced? Yes, of course, because even if you are the one who instigated the break, as I was, that doesn’t stop it hurting, despite what people may assume. Should you read it if you are single, or happily paired off, or have no attraction to any other person in the world? Hell yes. There are tales here to give hope to all of humanity in the dark days that we live in right now, and yes some of them are sad and might make you cry (I’m looking at you Gibson Grand, with your tale of Unlearning the Family), but they will also remind you that divorcees are people too. We aren’t to be shunned, or avoided, or – worst of all – pitied. Don’t take my word for it though, go and read the book, and find out for yourself.
Split is the first release from Fiction & Feeling, edited by Katie West and Jasmine Elliot, a book blogger and professional editor. Katie West is the author of the final entry in the book, A Divorcees Guide to the Apocalypse, a tale of losing marriage but retaining a best friend, first published in the Secret Loves of Geek Girls anthology. Her pragmatic and positive approach to life after divorce shines through in both her entry, and the entire book. Split is available now direct from the publishers via www.fictionandfeeling.com