A Clean Slate, by Laura Caldwell

>> Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Chick-lit books, being mostly trade paperbacks, are very difficult for me to get. There are usually no cheap copies used, the shipping costs the Earth, and buying them new is way too expensive for me. I made an exception for A Clean Slate (excerpt), by Laura Caldwell, because of all the wonderful comments it had received.

A Clean Slate chronicles the days of Kelly McGraw, a Chicago woman who suddenly can't remember the last five months of her life, a time when she was dumped by her soon-to-be fiance and laid off by the company she thought would make her partner. Overwhelmed and confused but otherwise feeling wonderful, she begins to realize that she has a clean slate in life. She can do anything she wants, go anywhere she wants, be anything she wants. But what, exactly, does she want?

Follow Kelly on a journey that includes her search to discover what caused her memory loss, an internship with a bad-boy British photographer, a Caribbean photo shoot, her boyfriend's desire to come crawling back and, eventually, a brutal discovery that will cause her to reevaluate both her old and new lives.
A Clean Slate very much lived up to the feedback that made me buy it. An A-.

This is the perfect book for people who like certain things about chick-lit (like more modern-feeling characters, urban settings, heroines who have a real network of friends, engaging first person narraton) but have no interest in reading about the TSTL twits whose only interest in life is getting a man, who are featured in so many Bridget Jones - wannabe books.

The story starts as narrator Kelly realizes she can't remember anything about the previous 5 months. Her friend Lane tells her about how depressed she's been, how she's barely been leaving her appartment, how she's been stalking her ex-boyfriend... but Kelly feels just fine now. She finds herself in a situation in which her life truly is a clean slate, and she can take it in any direction she wants.

It wasn't a story of high-adventure, but it was riveting. Kelly is an immensely likeable narrator. She's very self-aware and her reactions to what was happening made it very easy for me to identify with her. I loved the way she took control of her life again and was very entertained by the going-ons in her life. And, most of all, the "mystery" of what exactly had happened during those 5 months, that had caused her amnesia, kept me turning the pages like crazy.

There is very little romance here, but I didn't feel the lack. What little there was of it, near the end, was perfectly enough for me, and very, very nice.

I very much liked the not-quite-closed ending, with its hints of the myriad possibilities Kelly's life still held. I found it very appropriate, continuing the theme of the book.

If you think you might like chick-lit, but haven't been able to find one you like, give A Clean Slate a try.


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