Clean Breaks by Ruby Lang
Released: February 20, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
I’m a huge fan of Ruby Lang – her characters are smart and flawed and her friendships come across very real. I think I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews, but the girl friendships in this book are not all cupcakes and wine. They challenge each other, and have attitudes and reflect what I feel like is a true friendship.
All that being said, this is the first time I’m going to give this author less than four stars. For me this was a 3.5 star read, which is still good! I just didn’t connect with it as much as her first two.
Sarah Soon and Jake Li grew up together and went to the same school. Sarah’s parents are from China and Jake’s parents are from Taiwan, and they went to a predominantly white school. Maybe because of that, and because their families know each other, Sarah and Jake were friends somewhat in school. However, when Sarah is slut-shamed in high school for being caught with a boy with her shirt off, Jake doesn’t stand up for her. The community doesn’t’ stand up for her, and this betrayal never leaves Sarah. Now as an adult, she is a OB/GYN, mostly estranged from her parents but has found great friendships in the three other women who are part of her medical practice. Her life was in order, and going exactly as planned, until she was diagnosed with stage two skin cancer. Although she is currently cancer free, that diagnosis rocked her world. She has always exercised, eaten healthy and gotten lots of sleep. Cancer was not something that was supposed to happen to her. But she is slowly realizing that some things in her life are uncontrollable – like her feelings that flare up when Jake comes back into her life.
Jake is recently divorced. Marrying young, his wife fell in love with someone else, but was very open and honest about it. Yay? Jake is now lonely, working as a social worker at a high school. He starts his life over by moving to the same town Sarah lives and starts to run into her. Jake has always been very fond of Sarah, even though they have a somewhat messy past. Jake pursues and courts Sarah, but Sarah feels like her life is in chaos and isn’t sure she is ready for everything Jake has to offer.
This explores much more than just a relationship between Jake and Sarah. It explores race, rocky relationships with parents, health crisis, and friends getting married. But all of this swirls around their relationship, as it would in the real world. Jake and Sarah have known each other for a long time, so their courtship isn’t so much learning about the other, but more about how they see the future. Sarah’s world has been turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis, and even though she is in the clear, her brain just won’t move forward. She should be getting back to work, and should be excited about a new romance in her life, but she is stuck and it really upsets her. She lashes out to the people around her. I found Sarah very complex, but also hard to connect with. On paper, yes she has every right to be angry at the world for what she has been through. But sometimes her negative attitude and her negative actions made me sit back in my chair and grimace. Honestly, I found her difficult to like at times. She holds onto grudges and has such bitterness towards her parents – I wanted to understand that better. She is very frank and blunt and for me there is a fine line between coming across as honest and coming across as rude.
I didn’t dislike her entirely! There are some very witty scenes in this book, and the romance unfolds at a nice pace. Jake is a more easy-going guy, dealing with his own parental issues and finding his way in his new life after his divorce. His courtship of Sarah is sweet. Plus he has a beard and really sexy forearms so I swooned over him for most of the book.
I like this author’s voice and I really look forward to every book she writes. I hope you guys check out this series – the first two especially are fabulous.