The Split by Laura Kay
Categories: Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQ+
First Publication Date: 18 Mar 2021
I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat.
After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.
In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism.
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…?
This contemporary took me by surprise, I thought it would be a romcom, but it’s more a contemporary about Ally struggling after her girlfriend breaks up with her and then she needs to start over with no job, brokenhearted and living again with her dad. This is definitely not a romance novel, as I originally thought. I was very impressed by Laura Kay’s ability to portray the messy reality of getting over a difficult breakup, and for allowing Ally to make many, many mistakes and still we root for her, still her friends and family are there for her. Even though I did not love Ally as a person, I could still very much relate to her, feel for her pain and feel happy for her growth.
The fact that Ally and her friend Jeremy picked up running (for… interesting reasons) was what initially picked my interest, I really enjoy running. I suck at it, but I was very excited to read about someone struggling like I did and eventually coming to really love running. So… I found it rather incredible that she and Jeremy managed to go from couch potatoes to training for a half marathon, not that it’s impossible at all, but I did not find entirely believable the way it was done. Maybe I just have the willpower of a wet towel, but I expected more ups and downs on their training, and more details on how exactly they were planning it or tracking their progress. I’m a data nerd, so I had hopes that this would basically give me their training plan, which I admit is slightly too much to expect from a novel. Still, I did not feel that my struggles were shown on the page and it made me wonder if I’m just the worst runner in the world? Probably? Anyway.
Useless rant apart, I actually was surprised by this novel and enjoyed the honest, painful way in which the characters behaved, tried to pick up their pieces and were there for each other. This was more a story about Ally getting over her breakup, and her and Jeremy developing a friendship, about them finding a community of queer people where they felt they belonged, and moving on despite the difficulties.