Book Review: One Split Second by Caroline Bond

One Split Second…

About the Book:

The final goodbye is the hardest…

When a car carrying five teenagers home from a party crashes into a brick wall, the consequences are devastating – not just for the young people directly involved, but also for their families, their friends and the wider community.

No one escapes unscathed, but some are more deeply scarred than others and one of the group will not survive. In their grief and confusion, those left behind question who was to blame for the accident, and what price they will pay.

A haunting and emotionally affecting novel of love and loyalty, grief and forgiveness.

My Thoughts:

One Split Second is the kind of novel that pulls you in and offers an opportunity to view a tragedy from multiple perspectives. It’s not an easy novel to read, and as a parent of three teenagers, two of which are in the age range of the characters within this book, it was at times quite harrowing. And yet, I was utterly captivated by the story, the characters, and the range of issues and emotions that were examined throughout.

Ultimately, this is a novel about the consequences of dangerous driving: driving drunk, speeding, driving with distraction. Where it differs to other novels I’ve read that deal with this, is in the way it unfolds. The accident is at the beginning, and it’s everything that comes after that forms the story, and the widespread effects on the survivors and their families are all looked at in turn. Grief is examined, guilt, anger, restorative justice; this is on the personal level. Then there is the actual investigation and the way in which this impacts all involved.

One thing that really stood out for me in terms of getting my thoughts churning was related directly to the age that these children were. They were all eighteen years old, so on the one hand, they’re the children of their parents, but in actuality, they are adults in society. It was so difficult for the parents of the adults/children involved in the accident, and I felt such a kinship with each of them. They were compelled to step in and protect their children, but there were many things they didn’t know, resulting in this growing awareness that their children were no longer children but adults with separate lives, secrets even, and some of these secrets were things they really didn’t want their parents to know. They also had wishes of their own, and feelings of responsibility that needed to be dealt with and acknowledged, rather than ‘fixed’ by their parents.

Then there was another aspect, where the one person who died in the accident was thereafter considered a teenager, tragically killed too young, right on the cusp of beginning university and her adult life. And yet, the person who was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident and facing charges was a fully grown man, who should have known better, and was old enough to face his consequences. But both of these young adults were the same age, eighteen, and both on the cusp of beginning university, their adult lives, with so much ahead of them. I found the distinction interesting, her victim status lowering her perceived age, his perpetrator status inflating his, like a scale that was weighted differently without any of us ever being conscious of making it so. This was just one of many threads that had me thinking long and hard whilst reading this novel.

This is a novel that doesn’t hold back, it’s honest, graphic at times, so be prepared for some harrowing scenes that may affect you quite a bit, particularly if you’re a parent of teenagers. But it’s so good, and the structure, the way in which so many perspectives were offered, was just brilliant for this type of story. There is real meaning and depth of feeling within this novel, it’s very much a journey through the stages of loss, grief, retribution, and reconciliation. It’s not all grim, and it ends with an uplifting promise.


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of One Split Second for review.

About the Author:

Caroline Bond was born in Scarborough and studied English at Oxford University before working as a market researcher for 25 years. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Leeds Trinity University, and lives in Leeds with her husband and three children.

One Split Second
Published by Atlantic – Corvus
Released 2nd July 2020

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