We Were On a Break by Lindsey Kelk is a fun, quick read, but it isn’t anything ground-breaking or unique. While I enjoyed reading it and was able to get through pages of it relatively quickly, when I actually had the chance to sit down and read it, there were no stand-out moments in the story that would make it a favourite chick lit. novel for me. It’s a novel that I would recommend to anyone who wants a light and funny book to take on holiday or read on their daily commute, but it is definitely not a novel that I would ever rant and rave about.
We Were On a Break follows Adam and Liv, a thirty-something couple who decide to take a break from their relationship of approximately three years. This is a quirky and interesting premise for a romance novel, and I was immediately intrigued by where the story would go and what emotions it would explore. I’ve never read anything by Kelk before, but I have been meaning to for some time, so I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to get familiar with her writing style, especially because I read great things about the novel in reviews I stumbled upon. Unfortunately, nothing about the story or the characters wowed me, and, on the contrary, I felt that the plot was a bit jumbled and disorganized, and that there wasn’t much meat to it.
The characters, particularly Liv and Adam seemed very flat to me; although I did like the more loud personalities of Liv’s best friends David and Abi, the two main characters didn’t do anything for me, and I didn’t care enough about them to really be invested in their threatened relationship. Adam came across as more of a baby than anything, right from the very start of the novel, and having part of the story narrated in his voice only complicated my feelings toward him because I felt like he overreacted to many circumstances (such as his blundered marriage proposal) and just didn’t have any real maturity to him. Liv also seemed to be all over the place, and while I thought it would add some depth to her character when her unhappiness in her job as a vet at her dad’s clinic was explored, these uncertainties on Liv’s part only complicated the storyline unnecessarily, and her conflicts with her parents were ultimately left entirely unresolved. I felt that, for these reasons, the novel tried to do too much in only 400 pages, focusing first on Liv and Adam’s relationship, then on possible competition/alternative love interests for each of them, and then on their stresses at their jobs. These would’ve all been fascinating elements to explore in a romance novel, if only the characters were stronger and more thoroughly developed, and if more pages and time were given to discussing each one of these plot points in its own turn.
I also found the writing style of this particular novel incredibly confusing! The narration alternates between Liv’s first person narration and Adam’s, and the only aspect I enjoyed of this style was the fact that the reader gets a lot of internal monologue from each of them. But what frustrated and confused me to no end was the fact that there is no marker, heading or title to distinguish between the narrations of Liv and Adam. I originally expected that one chapter would be in Liv’s voice and the next in Adam’s, but I soon found that Kelk changed voices midway through chapters, and without any indication that she was doing so. Although there would be a page break in between sections narrated by each main character, oftentimes there was a page break separating two sections of Liv’s narration, or two sections of Adam’s, so looking out for these breaks was in no way a tool to determine which character was speaking. There were times when I read entire paragraphs before realizing the narrative voice had changed, and I just felt that this was so jarring and totally unnecessary! It was the sort of jolt that really distracted from my reading experience!
I originally gave this novel 3 stars on Goodreads when I first finished it, but after writing this review, I think I’ll have to deduct a star. My initial reaction, moments after closing the back cover, was that the story was entertaining enough to earn it an average rating, but when I really sit down to think about it, there were more problems, for me, than highlights. I am a big fan of authors like Sophie Kinsella and Sally Thorne, so I think my standards for chick lit. are pretty high. This novel, unfortunately, missed the mark for me, but I am determined to give Kelk’s books another chance in the future and maybe pick up one of her more acclaimed novels.
❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart