Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Jan 2015.
Genre: Literary Fiction
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Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road?
In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa.- Goodreads
Get pumped, book individuals. Shaina and I did a buddy read of Mr. Splitfoot and this time we RECORDED it. What we have here for you is a half hour discussion of what we loved about this book, and what confounded us. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you read the blurb above because Shaina and I do NOT do a good job of summarizing this book succinctly. After around 9 minutes in it treads into spoiler territory. So those of you who haven't read it are advised to turn it off there! (Don't worry, there will be a fancy graphic to guide you).
We ask important questions such as: "what was this guy's deal?" or "what was this other guy's deal?"
"Was Ruth going straight to the place or was she taking Cora to all of the meteorite places?"
And how do we feel about pregnant protagonists?
Don't got time for our video? Here are the non-spoiler-y highlights:
Shaina: There’s a cult. There’s some weird magical realism. And it’s a love story.
Julianne: Sort of.
Shaina: Sort of. And there’s like weird sci-fi elements.
Julianne: I don’t even know how to begin explaining why this book is good. Like it seems impossible to put into words.
Shaina: I mean it’s impossible to put into words partially I think because a lot of the words we use would be very big spoilers.
Shaina: But it just draws you in and you’re really - I mean you don’t know what’s going on but you’re kind of happy to not know what’s going on. You’re happy to like go along for the ride.
Julianne: You know that it will be revealed. You know you’re not going to be let down, because there’s too much random weird shit going on. You’re like ok this is going to connect in some way and I really want to see what she’s going to do with it. Ya gotta have faith.
Shaina: I really liked the orphan who had the word “fuck” tattooed to her face but had spelled it wrong.
Why do the living assume the dead know better than we do? Like they gained some knowledge by dying, but why wouldn't they just be the same confused people they were before they died?
Mr. Splitfoot was an incredible read that kept delivering beautifully thought out strangeness. This is a perfect book for #weirdathon in March, if you're looking for potential reads. If you dig cults or Carl Sagan at all, read this. I continue to think about this wildly original story, and I'm now kind of obsessed with Samantha Hunt.
Tell us what you think of Mr. Splitfoot! Do you have any answers for the questions that stuck with us?