Clean Break is a children's novel by Jacqueline Wilson, first published in Britain in 2005. It deals with the consequences of a father abandoning his family.

Plot summaryEdit

The main character is a young girl called Emily, or Princess Emerald to her imaginative Dad, who lives with her mum Julie, her six-year-old half-sister Vita and her three-year-old half-brother Maxie in their grandmother Ellen's house. Although her dad is technically only her step-dad, Em and her siblings all love him completely. Emily is highly sensitive (as a lot of characters are), and is very insecure about her weight. On Christmas Day Emily and Vita and Maxie receive their presents. Vita gets a special reindeer hand-puppet which they name Dancer, Maxie gets a set of felt tip pens and Em gets an emerald ring. Later that day Em overhears a conversation her dad is having and realizes that he is having a secret affair. Emily confronts her father, and he owns up to his cheating, and by the next morning he has left. After Emily's step-dad walks out, the rest of the family struggle to get along without him. Emily takes up swimming, where she becomes more fit, loses weight and gains confidence within herself. The children go and visit Frankie at the home of his new partner Sarah, but she is rude, selfish and obnoxious. On a visit they take to a park, Em, Vita and Maxie are astounded to find their Dad passionately kissing Sarah, in a way that he would never do to their mum.Sarah is an aspiring actress and both she and Frankie move to Scotland quite soon into their relationship. When they arrive home, they all reject their Dad's goodbyes. The children all tell their mother that Sarah and their Dad don't get on very well, and will be home soon. Their Mum is quite depressed, and dependent on Frankie for emotional support. Their grandmother does not understand how much the family all love him and would take him back if he ever returned. Em's Gran decides to take them on a holiday and gets a boyfriend herself. Emily runs into her real dad at a fair, and was scared because he had always abused her mother when she was young. When Emily travels to London to meet her favorite author, the family runs into Frankie again, as he has apparently broken up with Sarah and found a new girlfriend, Hannah, before moving back to London. Emily runs after Frankie, falls and breaks her arm and Dancer (her reindeer puppet), but her dad stops and takes her to the hospital. The story ends on Christmas Eve just under one year after Frankie left, with Frankie sending dancer back to them as a Christmas present. Somebody taps on the door pretending to be Father Christmas. The last line in the book is "It looked like it was going to be the best Christmas ever", presumably meaning that Frankie returns on Christmas Eve.

References to other Jacqueline Wilson BooksEdit

Em's favorite author is named Jenna Williams, a play on Jacqueline Wilson herself and her previous novels. Several of Jenna Williams books are mentioned, including:


  • Em - The main character. She is nine years old and loves reading, making up stories about Dancer, Vita's reindeer puppet, and her special emerald ring. She is overweight, but her best friends, Jenny and Yvonne don't think so.
  • Vita - Em's bossy six-year-old half-sister. She has a reindeer puppet called Dancer.
  • Maxie - Em's wimpy three-year-old half-brother who was given a set of expensive felt tip pens for Christmas. He does not want to sleep in a proper bed and he hates pyjamas.
  • Mum (Julie) - Em, Vita and Maxie's mum.
  • Dad (Frankie) - Vita and Maxie's dad and Em's stepdad. He walks off on the family on Boxing Day to live with his new partner Sarah.
  • Gran - Em's grandmother who tends to get very stroppy at times.
  • Dancer - Vita's reindeer puppet.
  • Jenny - Em and Yvonne's best friend. She has glossy neat black hair and bright blue eyes.
  • Yvonne - Em's second best friend. She is skinny with a mop of red curly hair.
  • Mrs Marks - Em's teacher.
  • Jenna Williams - A play on Jacqueline Wilson who is Em's favorite author.