Author: Lisa Heidke
The Callahan Split is the latest offering of talented Aussie author Lisa Heidke, and quite different to her previous books.
Samantha and Annie Callahan are sisters playing professional tennis as doubles partners and much of the book revolves around their careers and the tennis circuit. There were many famous tennis players mentioned but I think all of the characters are fictitious. This book is most definitely a tennis book and Heidke offers a comprehensive lesson in Australian women’s tennis history.
I am not a big fan of sport so for a little while I struggled to get into the story because it was so centred on the circuit. Before long I found myself invested in the characters and what had seemed like tennis overkill seemed much more important to the storyline.
Sam and Annie have been a team forever and neither can see themselves playing doubles with anyone else, and singles has never really been a priority. They are in their mid-twenties and their career is on the rise, until an impromptu proposal jams a spanner in the works and cracks begin to show.
Annie has always been quite calm and has a great poker face, it is still a game to her but Sam’s driving passion is tennis. She lives and breathes it, and has kept it the centre of her life to minimise distractions. Every tournament is a step in the direction of the next one. This makes the drive and the determination unbalanced within the partnership; when they are in sync it’s amazing but once they are off it can fast turn disastrous.
We met them as they head into the Australian Open semi finals, with a great chance of taking the win until distractions take their heads out of the game and set them on a short course to destruction.
Sam is emotional, explosive and extremely insecure. Her mum disappeared when they were young and then their dad remarried and started a new family so in Sam’s eyes it’s been her and Annie against the world, they’re a team, unbreakable. Sam turned to tennis to have something to consume her after her mum left, and if she buries herself deeply enough in the determination to win she has all the reason she needs to not let anyone else in.
She comes across as so self-centred and everything is about her and how things affect her but as the story unfolds we understand a little more about why she is the way she is.
The Australian Open loss is the beginning of a downhill slide both professionally and for the sisters relationship. The duo who have always been a team start drifting apart and learning to live their lives more separately. Finally things get to the point where Annie can’t take any more and she takes off to find herself, leaving Sam completely bereft and unsure of how to go on with her career without her doubles partner.
The Callahan Split is told by Sam in the first person for the most part, but there are sections told in the third person from the perspective of the Callahan’s best friend Violet. Once Annie leaves on her journey of self discovery we hear little from her, an occasional postcard to Violet to let everyone know she’s still alive.
We are there for Sam’s struggles though, in front row seats through her heartbreak, her career, her moving on and her fresh beginnings. The split may have been what she needed to find the strength to stand on her own two feet too.
The Callahan Split tells of determination, strength and self discovery; it’s love, loss and learning to have faith; and it’s very much tennis. The rumours, the back breaking and relentless training, the on court fight to make it through the next round even if you come up against someone you’re friends with off court and it is very much the ever present and invasive media scrutinising every single aspect of your life.
I really enjoyed The Callahan Split, maybe a little more than I first expected to, and it has given me a new appreciation of the extra pressure faced by elite athletes because of the media and their often complete lack of sensitivity.
The Callahan Split is book #39 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.
Thanks to Lisa Heidke we have copies of The Callahan Split to give away to five lucky readers. For your chance to win tell us in the comments below who your favourite Australian sports star is and why.
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