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The Split

A Novel

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About The Book

“It’s great fun to watch her two narratives collide and diverge.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Double the suspense…The Split is a storytelling feat.” —Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author

From critically acclaimed author Kit Frick, this electrifying suspense novel explodes convention to deliver two interlocking thrillers in one, following a pair of sisters into a family’s dark past and illuminating how a single choice can drastically alter the trajectory of our lives.

Jane Connor is resigned to being the “plain Jane” of her family—pragmatic and dependable—so unlike her beautiful and impetuous younger sister Esme. When Esme calls Jane during a flash summer storm, announcing she’s left her high society husband, Jane is shocked to learn that her sister wishes to stay with her. Could this be an opportunity for them to become close again? The only catch: Esme needs a ride from the city to their small Connecticut hometown, and Jane is terrified of getting on the highway…because of what she did when they were teens.

Jane must either let Esme stand on her own two feet for once or jump to her flighty younger sister’s rescue—and her choice cleaves her life in two.

In one reality, Jane can’t overcome her fear and tells Esme to crash with a friend. Twenty-four hours later, her sister is missing. Tortured by regret, Jane dedicates herself to piecing together Esme’s life before her disappearance, unraveling a web of lies, broken relationships, and, finally, the truth.

In the other reality, Jane swallows her fear and offers her less-than-grateful sister a ride. But while Jane hopes living together in their childhood home will be healing, Esme is aloof and increasingly reckless. The tension between the sisters builds until they are finally forced to reckon with the explosive secret from their past that could destroy their fragile bond—and both their lives.

With a rollicking pace and shocking twists and turns, The Split captivatingly explores how little we know the ones we love—and how one small choice can change everything.


Chapter One ONE
This is the place where memories go to die.

Officially, Monte Viso’s sixth floor is the memory-support wing, but strip away the top-notch doctors, the warm and earnest aides, the cheerful signs in their block letters and bright primary colors, and the naked truth is: you’re in a vault of forgotten pasts.

There was a time when Mom remembered, and then a time when she did not. Her move here was a stark inflection point for both of us, the acknowledgment that a different future, one in which she spent her golden years rattling around her too-big house with its stately bones, was no longer possible.

I suppose all lives have such pivotal moments, paths diverging, cracking in two—though the finality of the split registers only when we take stock of the universe we now inhabit, surrender to the swift death of the other.

“Where are you taking me?” Mom’s voice is sharp, shaking me from my reverie. Her eyes dart around the off-white hallway, its fresh coat of paint and pale rose carpet failing to counteract the harsh, institutional glare and faint smell of spray cleaner that permeates the sixth floor.

“We’re going out to the courtyard,” I tell her again. “It’s finally cooled off. I brought pomegranate iced tea.”

Slowly, she nods, allowing me to take her elbow and guide her gently toward the elevator.

Seven o’clock is a sleepy time in memory support. Dinner has finished. The more social residents gather in the common room, watching TV or working at jigsaw puzzles. Many are already in bed. Over the past two months, the staff has grown accustomed to my daily routine, my insistence on taking Mom outside unless it’s pouring rain.

I call the elevator, and Mom straightens beside me. Tonight, like every night, she looks impeccable. A healthy shine brushed into her long, brown hair, the gray dyed away. Clothes selected to accentuate, not hide, her tall, upright frame. And just enough makeup to draw out her delicate features.

I take after her—tall, brunette, small features that look refined when made up and mousy in any other light—whereas my little sister, Esme, shares a lucky list of attributes with Dad: blond, effortlessly slim, undeniably attractive, disinclined to ever truly grow up.

The consistency in Mom’s outward appearance is a comfort when the changes to her brain have been so staggering. Familial Alzheimer’s. Early onset. The first signs began at forty-eight; maybe even earlier. In review, I amass a collection of moments of confusion, missed appointments, muddled memories that revealed their importance only in aggregate.

The elevator doors part, and we step inside. I type the access code into the keypad, eyes lingering on the small gray-and-white monitor strapped to Mom’s ankle. At sixty-three, she’s one of the youngest residents at Monte Viso. Unlike many of her peers, she is fully ambulatory, a flight risk. Hence the ankle monitor and access code, insurance she won’t wander away from the sixth floor unaccompanied, or worse, out of the building altogether.

“Hold that!”

The doors jerk back open, revealing Dr. James Paulson’s surprised face. It’s been a month since our breakup, a month during which I’ve carefully arranged my visits around his work schedule, intent on giving him space, on avoiding just such an awkward run-in.

“Oh,” I say, words failing me. My gaze darts from his name tag to his crisp white jacket to the small patch of freckles dusting his nose, unsure where to land.

Jamie recovers first, eyes resuming their familiar, amiable glow as he joins us in the car. He turns to my mother.

“Marjorie Connor. Always a pleasure.”

“You remember Dr. Paulson, Mom?” I ask, knowing full well she does not. On good days, Mom knows me. Close family, old friends. But new faces rarely stick, even the neurologist she saw for a year before his relationship with me made it necessary for her to switch doctors.

The elevator begins its descent, and Mom turns to me as if we are alone in the car. “He’s very handsome. And a doctor.”

I resist the temptation to roll my eyes. Mom’s family didn’t come from money, but marrying Dad—marrying Carl Connor’s wealth—changed everything. If it wasn’t for the favorable terms of the divorce settlement, she would have spent the past two decades living somewhere far more modest than the grand, rambling house on Boneset Lane.

Mom never made a secret of the fact that she wanted Esme and me to marry up. Unsurprisingly, she loves Esme’s husband, Mark Lloyd, of the New York Lloyds, who has been in my sister’s life long enough to stick in Mom’s brain.

Her comment about Jamie lingers in my ears. She has no idea how many months I spent wondering if he might be the one, if marriage was in our future. But not because he’s a doctor, or makes a doctor’s salary. I do just fine on my own at Empire, the private lender in Lower Manhattan to which I commute an hour and a half each way, every day. My job is the only way we can afford Monte Viso. All the time I spent on Jamie had nothing to do with career or money; I simply loved him. And it hasn’t been so easy to leave those feelings in the past.

When the doors open on the ground floor, I motion for Jamie to step out first.

“I didn’t know you’d be on the floor tonight,” I apologize, taking in his achingly familiar crop of brown hair, warm brown eyes, the dusky scruff along his jaw.

He shrugs. “My flight doesn’t leave until almost midnight. Haruto will be covering for me all next week.”

“Of course,” I say, guiding Mom out of the elevator and toward the courtyard doors. “Your trip,” I add, hoping it sounds like I’ve just remembered. Tonight, Jamie is leaving for San Francisco to visit his parents. For months, the trip sat on our shared calendar. For months, I hoped an invitation to join him might materialize. When he unlinked our accounts a week or so after the breakup, all of Jamie’s plans vanished into the ether, leaving my calendar the same uninspired clutter of work meetings and doctors’ appointments and visits with Mom.

Back when I first began bringing her to Jamie’s neurology practice on the Upper East Side, the best in the tristate area, I was still living in Brooklyn and working twelve-hour days, only starting to wrap my head around the reality of Mom’s diagnosis. How she’d require constant supervision, how I would need to return to my Connecticut hometown.

We began dating shortly before I moved back in with Mom. In the little over a year we were together, Jamie was sweet, thoughtful, kind—always there for me, even in the tough times, especially in the tough times. He thrived on being my support as Mom’s health worsened and I struggled to keep her safe at home; I imagine all doctors have a bit of a savior complex.

But eventually, when Mom was settled into Monte Viso, I was no longer someone in crisis mode, nor was I free to move back to the city. Seeing Mom every day was part of the deal I made with myself when I finally opted for long-term care. My life was in Branby now, my time in the city constrained to work.

When the dust settled, what Jamie and I had wasn’t enough: me here and Jamie based primarily in New York City, save for his two days a week at Monte Viso. I would have fought to make it work, but Jamie didn’t see a future for us. I thought our lives made sense entwined, but when he made it clear he didn’t see it the same way, all the fight went out of me.

Jamie reaches over to key the access code into the pad on the wall for Mom and me, and the courtyard door glides slowly open. Mom is already striding out into the warm evening air, but I stand at the threshold, not quite ready to let him go. I miss him. And the fact that my mother doesn’t remember Jamie at all is a cruel twist of the knife; our relationship is squarely in the past, it will never matter. He’s going to San Francisco alone tonight, will go on with his life, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

“Well, it was nice to see you,” I say weakly. “Have a good trip.” A good everything. Without me.

“Right. Enjoy the time with your mom.” His eyes travel beyond me, then skyward. His lashes are unfairly long. “Nice weather tonight.”

He takes two steps back into the hall before turning toward the lobby. Then he’s gone, and my heart is floating freely in my chest, untethered and aching. Apparently, we are now people who comment politely on the weather.

“Esme,” Mom says from the patio chair where she’s settled herself across the courtyard, chin tilted up toward the sun still lodged in the late-summer sky.

“What about Esme?” I ask, unsure if Mom has mistaken me for my little sister. The fact that Esme and I look nothing alike is no guarantee against the ravages of Mom’s Alzheimer’s.

“She said she was going to visit, a week ago, maybe two,” Mom says, “but she hasn’t come. She canceled.”

“I’m sorry.” Mom’s words have alleviated my fear that she has mixed the two of us up tonight, but all the same, I have to wonder if this conversation with Esme even took place. Just as easily, Mom could be remembering one of my many calls, her memory recasting my confirmation of an upcoming visit in her younger daughter’s voice. She is no longer a reliable narrator of her own life.

I take a seat in the patio chair next to her and pull a thermos of the pomegranate iced tea Mom loves from my tote. Maybe Esme did call, dangle the promise of a visit, then flake. I’m very familiar with the sting of my sister’s last-minute cancelations. The last time she came to Branby was the day we moved Mom into Monte Viso, two months ago. I’ve become intimately familiar with Mom’s sharply deteriorating neurological health during the year I’ve been living at home, caring for her, while Esme has managed to avoid the harsher realities of Mom’s decline. It would be nice if she’d help me shoulder the responsibility from time to time, but that’s not Esme.

I unscrew the thermos top and pour the tea into two plastic cups. Mom sips hers, and a smile creeps across her face. For the first time since I got here tonight—perhaps for the first time all day—my shoulders relax. It’s been ungodly hot since midweek, and if the hurricane currently making its way up the coast arrives tomorrow, the rain will drive Mom and me back into the frigid air-conditioning. But this evening is perfect, and I won’t let my sister’s absence or my run-in with Jamie ruin it. I let myself sink into the cushion and enjoy the warm sun on my skin.

There is a particular kind of darkness ushered in by a late-summer storm. It’s not the dark of nightfall—dusky, gradual, accompanied by the low hum of cicadas and a meandering breeze—but sudden and all-consuming, the sky clear one moment and then inky, grim, swollen with threat.

The evening after I bump into Jamie at Monte Viso, I arrive home to 16 Boneset Lane right as the clouds rupture, rain beginning in earnest. Thankful to be in for the night after an early dinner with Mom, I pull around the parking circle and past the lush bed of succulents and hanging vines that was once a perpetually leaky fountain, fat drops splattering against the windshield of my Subaru sedan.

The house sits on several acres of manicured property secluded at the end of a tree-lined cul-de-sac. It’s an updated 1920s affair, over four thousand square feet of stone and wood with four bedrooms and five baths. My sister and I christened it “Old Boney” many years ago after boneset, the tiny white flowers for which our street takes its name, or maybe for the way the walls shift and creak late at night, like an old woman settling into her bones.

Esme and I grew up here together, but my little sister has never felt the same love for the grand old house, or our small Connecticut hometown. The mortgage is paid off, thanks to Dad, but the upkeep and taxes are a significant monthly expense on top of Mom’s care. I should really sell it, but I can’t bear the thought.

The garage door slides shut behind me, and I switch off the ignition just as my phone begins to bleat.

Esme’s name flashes across the screen, and I hurry to answer. Sometimes, I miss our old closeness with a ferocity that knocks the breath from my lungs. But it’s been years since we talked every day, since we went to each other with our problems, since she called me out of the blue.

It’s not surprising, given what I did…


“Jane, thank god you picked up.”

Phone cradled to my ear, I step out of the car and clamber up the stairs to the kitchen.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“I left Mark.”

The almost flawlessly Michelangean face of my sister’s husband flashes across my mind—the chiseled jawline, not a hint of stubble to be found; straight nose; icy blue eyes; closely clipped brown hair. It’s nearly impossible to picture Mark Lloyd cast aside, his confidence shaken.

“Are you okay?” I ask. “What happened?”

“Nothing happened.”

Mind churning, I cross through the kitchen and into the foyer, flicking on the overhead lights and dropping my bag in its regular spot on the ornate console table.

All her life, Esme has been lucky in love. Lucky, in fact, in everything. The things I’ve worked so hard toward—financial stability, a lifelong romantic partnership—have been handed to Esme, seemingly on a silver platter. I feel terrible that her marriage is on the rocks, of course I do. But for the first time in a long time, I feel something else. The possibility of a connection to this woman who used to be my everything, who has made herself barely more than a stranger in recent years. Suddenly, I feel a little less alone in my uncharmed life.

“I’ve been bored for a while, and I finally woke up,” she continues. “Marrying Mark was a mistake. Now you can gloat about how right you were.”

I start down the hall toward the living room, kitten heels clicking on the Italian marble floor. “I never—”

“Of course you thought it was a mistake. I was twenty-four. Everyone thought it was a mistake.”

It’s true I worried about her decision to get married so young; I’ve always wanted to spare her from any sort of pain, heartbreak or otherwise. I was happy for her, and maybe a little jealous, but mostly I didn’t understand the rush to marry Mark Lloyd, six years her senior and firmly established in his career as an investment banker. Esme was barely out of college when they met, and the power dynamic in their relationship was worrying. But I knew she’d take my criticism badly, and I kept my mouth shut.

Clearly, my discretion didn’t matter. Esme has always been able to read me like a book.

I sink into the living room couch, dark leather cushions shushing beneath me, and let my eyes fall shut. At twenty-eight, my sister still looks like a child playing a very stylish game of dress-up. Wavy blond hair and sparkling green eyes. Pale, blemish-free face. Soft makeup. Tiny frame, unique in a family of formidable height, with the delicate features and high cheekbones to match.

Only the jagged pink scar that runs all the way from her shoulder to her elbow mars the doll-like effect. The cut healed years ago, but the scar’s indelible presence is a reminder of how badly I hurt her, how I will forever live in her debt.

“I thought you were young,” I say, choosing my words carefully. All her life, people have wanted to take care of Esme. Perhaps me, most of all.

“See? Gloat away.”

“I’m not gloating, truly.” The last thing I want is for this rare phone call to turn into a fight. My gaze travels across the living room, past the entrance to the three-season porch, to the wide picture window overlooking the patio, the grounds, the small stone cottage. Thunder rumbles overhead, and a thin blade of lightning splits the sky.

“Anyway. I need some time to clear my head,” she says, “and nothing exciting ever happens in Branby.”

My chest swells with the knowledge that she wants to come here, to me, to weather the storm. Is it too much to hope that her return home will open a new chapter for us, one in which we start to mend? I want it so badly, my throat aches.

“You can stay as long as you want,” I say.

Esme doesn’t respond right away, and it hits me that she didn’t actually say she wanted to stay at Old Boney, with me. Laughter erupts in the background, and the clinking of glasses. It sounds like she’s at a party, or out at a restaurant, and the noise reminds me I haven’t gone out on a Saturday night since Jamie ended things between us.

My sister and I have always been so different. While Esme is a social butterfly, I am reserved; while she thrives on drama and secrecy, I am practical and measured. Even our names are uncanny reflections of the women we’ve become—plain Jane after my paternal grandmother; then Esme, Mom’s fanciful choice for her second daughter after ceding to Dad’s strong will when naming their first.

Just as her silence is becoming unbearable, Esme clears her throat. Then her voice cuts through the background noise, carrying an obvious note of tension. “Thanks, Janie. I might take you up on that. But I need you to come get me.”

“You still haven’t told me what happened with Mark,” I urge, pressing the phone to my ear, hoping she’ll open up to me, like she always used to.

“I did though.”

“You realized it was a mistake,” I say. But something tangible must have happened to prompt her to leave him. “Did you have a fight?”

“No fight.”

“If Mark was hurting you, you’d tell me, right? If he did something—”

“It’s nothing like that,” she cuts in, voice clipped. “I left Mark on Thursday, and I’ve been figuring things out. I said I’d meet him for dinner tonight. He wanted to talk.”

“Okay,” I say slowly. “It went badly?”

“It didn’t go at all. Mark wants the impossible; I’m done. Dinner would have been a senseless agony. And now I really need a ride.”

My eyes travel again to the back of the house, rain pummeling the picture window. Water streams down the glass in sheets. “Where are you?”

“Thanks so much,” she says, although I haven’t agreed to anything. “I’ll text you the address.”

The call ends, and a moment later, my phone chimes with a new text.

420 Madison @ E 48.

Txt me when you’re here.

I blink at the screen, pulse ticking in my throat. It feels good to be needed, like old times.

But this is a bad night for a drive. I squeeze my eyes shut, and I can almost feel the steering wheel bucking in my grasp, the tires beginning to hydroplane. Then I’m back there, fifteen years ago. Scared out of my mind, totally out of control, screaming at the top of my lungs while Mom’s car spins and spins, hurtling toward the grim promise of impact…

I pry my eyes open and shake the memory away, but I’m left with the reality that Esme’s not exactly nearby; it’s an hour’s drive to Midtown Manhattan in the best of weather. My fingers hover over the screen.

It’s storming! I can’t drive into the city right now. Don’t you have a friend you can stay with for the night?

Jane, come on! I have nowhere to go.

That cannot possibly be true. After all, she’s been staying somewhere for the last two nights. But something is going on with her, more than she’s letting on. My stomach clenches with nerves—for what she’s not telling me, for what I need to do. Because I am incapable of ignoring her cry for help, a truth as elemental to our relationship as the molecules of our DNA.

I picture her then in the days after Mom and Dad’s divorce, a fragile ten-year-old in black leggings and a shimmery gold tank top that makes her look older than her age. She sits outside, on the patio wall, looking away from the house and chewing her fingers raw. I join her, and for a moment, we sit there in silence, staring at the lawn, the stone cottage in the back, the unblemished blue sky. Then she rests her head on my shoulder, a signal I can wrap my arm around her, draw her close to me, that she will let me absorb some of the hurt into my skin.

The memory fades and I head back into the foyer for my keys, torn between two competing urges: to tell my sister firmly but gently no for the first time in my life, or to get in the car and rescue her.

About The Author

Photo: © Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio

Kit Frick is a MacDowell Fellow and International Thriller Writers Award finalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. She is the author of the young adult thrillers Before We Were Sorry (originally published as See All the Stars), All Eyes on UsI Killed Zoe SpanosVery Bad People, and The Reunion, as well as the poetry collection A Small Rising Up in the LungsThe Split is her first novel for adults. Kit loves a good mystery but has only ever killed her characters. Honest. Visit Kit online at and on Instagram @KitFrick.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (February 13, 2024)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668022474

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Raves and Reviews

"Should she stay or should she go? In each scenario, Frick slowly ratchets up the suspense . . . it's great fun to watch her two narratives collide and diverge."

– The New York Times Book Review

"Double the suspense! THE SPLIT is both funhouse mirror and storytelling feat, with twin narratives that race each other to a satisfying — and shocking — conclusion."

– Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of THE ONLY ONE LEFT

"In this clever domestic thriller by Kit Frick, one split decision takes two twisty paths in a crafty sliding doors plot. The characters leap from the pages and the family dysfunction feels both complex and grounded. A highly relatable and page-turning read!"

– Wendy Walker, bestselling author of WHAT REMAINS

"A knotty Sliding Doors–esque thriller about two sisters who share a dark secret. . . Frick keeps readers deliriously off-balance, tossing out just enough breadcrumbs to make the truth seem obvious only in hindsight. The format gives new life to the unreliable narrator trope. This is an exhilarating puzzle."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Frick’s family drama uses its clever framing device to trace the very real mysteries imbedded in our oldest and most intimate relationships."

– Elle, "Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2024"

"Utterly absorbing and compulsively readable, THE SPLIT is a clever Sliding Doors-style thriller that brilliantly examines how a single decision can derail an entire life. At once an intriguing puzzle threaded with secrets and lies, and a compelling family drama exploring the complicated bonds of sisterhood, THE SPLIT is a novel you won't be able to put down -- or forget."

– Kathleen Barber, author of Truth Be Told (adapted as an Apple TV+ series) and Follow Me

"A masterfully crafted, inventive thriller that surprises at every turn. THE SPLIT is unlike anything I've ever read before."

– Kara Thomas, author of OUT OF THE ASHES and THAT WEEKEND

"An edge-of-your-seat suspense tale about sisters and secrets. . . . Frick leaves readers breathless."

– Booklist

"In a taut thriller with two timelines, both are packed with clever twists. . . . Frick skillfully builds details into one plot that morph into something shockingly different in the other. The prose is streamlined, the pace headlong, and the surprises satisfying on both sides of reality."

– Kirkus Reviews

"The only thing better than one mystery is TWO!"

– Goodreads, "Editors' Most Anticipated Books"

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