At just over 300 pages, Jacqueline Wilsons new novel Clean Break
may be her longest yet, but her ever-increasing legions of fans will never complain. The more words from their favourite author they can get crammed into one book, the better. The countrys most-borrowed author is again on familiar ground, with a cast of colourful and needy characters that could live just around the corner. Her ability to reflect modern life, and how ordinary people live it and struggle with it, is unparalleled in contemporary childrens fiction.
Clean Break is told from the point of view of Em, or Emerald as she likes to be known, and is about what happens to her mum, gran, and two half-siblings, Maxie and Vita, when the man of the house leaves them for another woman. Her mums second husband, Frankie, is not her real dad, but he has been Ems dad ever since she can remember and she does not want to let him abandon them all. Its an understandably traumatic departure.
Frankie leaves on Boxing Day morning and Ems mum, Julie, is devastated. They all cling on to the hope that he will soon return to them, but it quickly transpires that hes not coming back and that theyre all just going to have to deal with their new circumstances in whatever way they can. Gran just goes on criticising her daughter, which doesnt help, but Em, Maxie and Vita find solace and comfort in their friends and heroes, real and imaginary.
Despite the storys sad themes, Wilson always leaves the reader and her characters with the shoots of new, better beginnings and hope for the future. Like any book, its worth is in the quality of its storytelling, and fortunately this particular author is great at doing just that.
(Age 9 and over) --John McLay
Praise for Jacqueline Wilson: "A brilliant author of wit and subtlety."-"The Times""Jacqueline Wilson tackles another delicate subject that is close to many children's hearts." -"The Bookseller""Has a rare gift for writing lightly and amusingly about emotional issues."-"Bookseller"