Clean by Amy Reed
Simon Pulse, 288 pages
You’re probably wondering how I ended up here. I’m still wondering the same thing.
Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.
When I decided to read Clean by Amy Reed, I was fresh from finishing Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, so the entire setting felt a little bit familiar. Clean however is far from the mixed genre that Ultraviolet was — this is contemporary YA through and through, something that deals with something I haven’t really quite read about much but means a lot right now: addiction and rehab.
Clean is about five teenagers Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason and Eva, who formed a little group in the rehabilitation center they all landed in after they made very bad choices in their lives. Olivia is the girl who strives to be perfect in every way and ended up being OCD and anorexic. Kelly is the beautiful, popular girl who has an addition to cocaine and alcohol, and in some ways, sex. Christopher is the church kid who somehow got into meth. Jason is an alcoholic who is guilty about something he did to his family. Eva is addicted to painkillers, thinking it would numb the pain of her mother’s death. Away from cutting tools, drugs, alcohol and bad influences, the five form an unusual friendship that would help them through their time inside rehab. The book is told in Kelly and Christopher’s POVs, interspersed with dialogues and essays they had and submitted to their therapist.
While I was reading this, I was also watching an episode of If You Really Knew Me (the same show I referenced in my review of Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers). I found that show relevant to this book too, probably because Clean involved teens coming to terms with who they are, only in a bigger scale. The teens in this book are truly messed up because of so many things that anyone can experience. The books shows that no one is exempt to the temptation of addiction, or at least, looking for an escape from life. Sometimes even the most unexpected people will provide the means for addiction — like parents, for instance. I can’t help but feel bad for the characters in this book, especially Jason. His tough exterior is really just brought about by the equal and possibly more terrifying toughness of his military dad. Even if it was only told in Kelly and Christopher’s POVs, the other characters never lost any of their voices. The in-between therapy sessions and essays gave us a pretty good view on what the other characters were thinking, and I think Kelly and Christopher were effective in sharing the spotlight.
This book doesn’t really have a big climax. It’s not necessarily boring — there was a part that got me really worried for one of the characters, but the ending made up for it. The story flows from one event to the next, making readers root for our little group and wishing them strength to overcome their trials, all leading to a hopeful ending. Clean is contemporary at its core, and while it isn’t an easy to novel to read, it’s definitely an important one.
Oh, and I really like the cover on this one. I wonder how it would look like in the wild. :)
Clean by Amy Reed will be available in hardcover from Simon Pulse on July 19, 2011. Thanks to Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab for the review copy.
My copy: e-ARC from Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab
Cover and Blurb: Goodreads