REVIEW: Lisa Heidke’s ‘The Callahan Split’
The Callahan Split
No one knows you better than your sister.
In tennis, as in life, nothing ever goes truly to plan.
Samantha and Annie Callahan are successful doubles champions — the toast of the Olympics, Wimbledon, and Flushing Meadow. But their winning partnership spirals out of control when Annie’s new boyfriend announces their engagement at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Bear, the sisters’ coach, guides Annie as much as she’ll allow. But when she insists on dropping Samantha in favour of a singles career, her game and rankings plummet.
Samantha is left floundering. Disillusioned, her only sweet spot is the growing passion between her and Bear.
Amidst rising anger and betrayal, Samantha completely changes both their destinies when she does the unthinkable after a devastating Wimbledon loss.
The sisters are driven to create new lives by confronting the past and taking control of the present. But can Samantha and Annie both win?
What AusRom Today thought:
As one of four sisters, I knew from the outset that any sisters living and working together in close confines was fodder for some serious conflict, rivalry, and explosive love/hate storytelling. Add to this dynamic, one sister who is uber competitive, controlling and singularly focused on winning and the other who is much more laid-back and almost whimsical about competition and you know immediately you’re in for a wild ride!
Within the opening scenes, Heidke introduces the uniquely close, almost unbreakable bond between sisters with characters Samantha and Annie Callahan. The groundwork that Heidke puts in to establishing their bond, with the inclusion of a particularly sad back-story, offered a vital setup for the Callahan’s story.
From page one there’s no looking back. True to form, Heidke delivers the first of many twists and turns in the story and immediately hooks the reader by investing us in the Callahan lives.
From a characterisation perspective, Heidke certainly delivers and not just with the key characters. Samantha, though single-minded and fiercely focused on competition and winning develops steadily, if not tumultuously, throughout the story, each step of the way completely plausible and well structured. There is clear development of Annie’s character also and interestingly her departure from the direct storyline is a catalyst for the further development Samantha as well as secondary characters such as Violet, Bear, and Zach.
Possibly the most important aspect of this story and the reason I very much hope this novel is an incredible success for Heidke, is the discussion Heidke introduces on aspects of mental health that so desperately require a voice: depression, suicide, anxiety and controlling relationships (notably Annie and Janko). The topics of depression and anxiety in particular were remarkably well done and I commend Heidke on her empathetic presentation of these topics.
The Callahan Split explores the beauty of sisterhood, the joys of romance, and the trials and tribulations of finding your place in the world. Most poignantly, The Callahan Split shows how vitally important it is to face your fears, release yourself from your past in order to push forward into the present, accept opportunities, celebrate your triumphs, and allow the happiness in.
– J’aimee Brooker, AusRom Today
Thanks for the fabulous review, J’aimee. So glad you liked it!