I always struggle with how to start reviews for hard hitting, emotional contemporary books, and I have to say that those words totally describe Clean. I've heard this book described as 'The Breakfast Club in Rehab' and I have to say that pretty much nails it.
We get these five teens, all in rehab because of their own addictions, all of them with a history and a not so glamorous background. We see these teens thrown together, becoming friends even though they don't really choose to, they just have to and we see their relationships and friendships grow as the characters themselves grow.
This books greatest success is the fantastic character development. While it's to be expected in a book about rehab that the character development will be good, Amy Reed really does show the readers these characters and their inner-depths. We start out with five teens, all we know is that they're in rehab and slowly, as the story continues, we learn about their past and their problems and this was really what carried this story for me.
The book itself didn't really have a plot, as it's mainly just about the opening up of the characters. This brought a few problems for me - I felt it difficult to work out the time scale of the story. At the end of the book, it's clear that it's been three or four weeks, but the story really seems to just go on for a few days. I think the reason I struggled to grasp the time scale was because of how the story is told. The main story is told through the eyes of two of the characters; Kelly and Christopher, but interrupting these train-of-thoughts narratives are dialogues of group counselling sessions and snippets of assignments that the characters have been given. I felt like these interruptions seriously ruined the flow of the book and while they did help to build on the characters, I also feel like the quality of the book itself was ruined a little by this.
Clean is quite a short book, but in no way is it an easy read due to the difficult issues dealt with. The characters are struggling with some pretty serious issues and the way that Reed writes it is very hard-hitting. Definitely not a book to read if you're looking for something fun, but totally
something you should read if you want something emotional and deep. I would recommend this for older readers of over fourteen.
Overall rating: B+
Stand alone/series: Stand alone
Release: July 19th 2011 (US)
Publisher: Simon and SchusterBook obtained via: S&S GalleyGrab