I had never been in my single bed with Emily. Her soft skin had never touched these sheets. I had never felt her hot breath on the back of my neck in the middle of the night within these four walls. I was transported to a land before Emily, to a place where she had never existed, where we had never existed. I didn’t feel hopeful or happy, but for the first time in twenty-four hours, I didn’t feel completely crushed.The Split
Ally lives in London with her girlfriend, Emily. They live together on Emily’s boat with Emily’s cat, Malcolm. One day, Emily comes home to tell Ally that she wants to break-up and she’s going to stay with a work-friend for a few days. Devastated, Ally packs a bag of clothes, puts Malcolm in his carrier, and gets on a train to go and stay at her dad’s house in Sheffield.
By taking Malcolm, Ally hopes Emily will come and see her in Sheffield where they can be reunited when Emily realises that she has made a huge mistake. Emily is, of course, furious that Ally has taken her cat.
Back in Sheffield, Ally reconnects with a childhood friend called Jeremy who is also recovering from a break-up. Jeremy thinks he has seen a picture of his ex on Instagram training for the Sheffield half-marathon and manages to talk Ally into signing up for the race with him. Jeremy is also hoping that his ex-boyfriend will see him at the race and realise that he too has made a huge mistake.
This is a story about finding hope after heartbreak as we follow Ally and Jeremy’s race training (which includes meeting Jo, leader of the local running club), and their adjustments to lives that they hadn’t hoped or wished for. As Ally asks: “But what do you do when the right person for you decides you’re not the right person for them?”
The next twenty minutes were some of the slowest of my life. I hated both the stretches of running – pure, unadulterated pain – and the gentle walks during which my legs wobbled, and I could barely enjoy the relief of being able to breathe before taking off again.The Split
Malcolm was obviously my favourite character, and stole every scene he was in, but I loved Ally from the first page and genuinely wish I could go for a pint (not a run) with her. I also thoroughly enjoyed all the references to cake and wine and Percy Pigs that were liberally plonked throughout the book whilst the characters were training for the half-marathon.
When we’d first signed up we’d shared the attitude that our future selves would be vastly different, enlightened beings and somehow able to pull running thirteen miles out of the bag like magic. As we approached the big day it became increasingly obvious that we were still the same sweaty lumps dragging ourselves around the streets every few days.The Split
I thought this book was beautifully written with just the right amount of humour and tenderness. Ally’s sweet relationship with her father who is trying to help put her back together after Emily, but also how we sometimes return to our teenager habits when we are back staying with our parents. I thought Laura Kay wrote about a subject most of us have had to experience, being broken-up with, with such warmth and hope and I think this book would be a comfort to read if you were unlucky to be going through one at the time. Somehow, we mend and we survive.
Recommendations for reading this book are: with a freshly made Nutella doughnut, a mug of steaming hot tea, to be enjoyed under the watchful eye of a very judgemental cat.