Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

What would you do if you were witness to a man abusing his wife? That is the question that Jake Atwood briefly asks himself before breaking up a public altercation between Adam Vandek and his estranged wife, Celeste. They are separated because of Adam’s compulsive gambling, and his abusive tendencies toward Celeste and their son, Spencer. She’d been willing to give him a second chance–until Adam got involved in a new scheme and lost $25,000.

Jake is the sort of man that has never stuck around in a long-term relationship; he has always chosen to be with unavailable women. But there is something different about Celeste, and he begins to pursue a relationship with her now that his romance with a married police detective has ended. These four individuals’ separate lives become entangled when a crime is committed and each person has to make a life altering decision.

Clean Break is David Klein’s sophomore novel. His writing is very to the point and leaves little imagination to the reader; he entirely ignores one of the most important techniques in writing: “show, don’t tell”. Though this is not a technique that needs to be used for every scene in a story, Klein’s novel comes across as very lazily written because he doesn’t allow readers to become fully immersed in the story by using their imaginations.

I found Celeste to be a likable main character, and I was empathetic to the dissolution of her marriage. I admired her because she took Adam to court to gain full custody of their child and did what she could to move forward with her life. Adam came on too strong; he didn’t feel quite real to me. I wish that he had displayed more vulnerability and that I could feel just a little sorry for him.

Early on, I began to see how Jake’s and Sara’s stories would begin to intersect with Adam’s and Celeste’s. Sara makes a few decisions that seemed out of character for her, based on all of the back story that Klein provides. I wanted to like Jake and Sara more than I did, but failed to connect to either.

I struggled to get through Clean Break. There were too many unnecessary details given about all the characters and my inability to really care about any of them made it one of my least favorite reads of the summer.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

Also by David Klein: Stash

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Broadway. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.