THE BOOK REPORT: Split: A Memoir of Divorce

Split: A Memoir of Divorce
by Suzanne Finnamore
(Dutton Adult)

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There is no denying that getting divorced is no fun, and in her recent novel, Split, Suzanne Finnamore reminds us just how not fun it is.

In an entirely candid portrayal of her struggle with divorce, Finnamore reveals a journey wholly undesirable. Relying on the support from relationships with her mother and close friends, Finnamore depicts a journey through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, grief and acceptance. We follow her path in coping with the various setbacks with her ex, including acknowledging the “other woman,” and those issues that arise when a young child is also in the picture. (The child saves the novel from becoming entirely focused on the downward spiral and, seems to also be dually responsible for saving his mother from complete dismay.)

Split is subtitled, “A Memoir of Divorce,” but as far as “memoirs” go, there is no hint of sentimentality or anything cherishable in this tale of woe. It seems unfair to accuse Finnamore of being overdramatic, and it should not go unsaid that this “memoir” is in some ways redeemed by its humanity. Finnamore does deserve praise for making it through such a difficult journey. However, despite the fact that overnight she became a single mother and victim of adultery, her character is still not entirely sympathetic. The novel ultimately seems self-indulgent, as Finnamore sharply contrasts the woman this reader wanted to see, a woman defined by those efforts of the second wave of the feminist movement, the movement that otherwise affords Finnamore her prestigious position as a journalist who has contributed to several highly trafficked women’s magazines.

However quickly this 253-page “memoir” may read, exposure to every moment of heartbreak proves excessive. She might have drawn more sympathy from this reader had she not compared the tears streaming from her eyes to melting butter or, in a different instance, as “ineffectual bullets,” but perhaps this is what the modern day divorcee seeks for solace and comfort? If so, Split has much to offer. At the very least, it forgives her for indulging in yet another cocktail.

Jessica Stein

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