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. 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.
I read CLEAN as an eARC through Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program. It's publication date is August 8th, 2011.
CLEAN takes place in a teen rehab facility in Seattle, through the perspective of five teenagers dealing with different forms of substances abuse. It's many told through the perspective of two teens: Kelly, who's there for coke and alcohol abuse, and Christopher a meth addict. But in one way or another, we got to slip into the heads of the three other teens.
See, I'm really torn about this book. Parts of it were raw and real and emotional. Then there were parts where it just kind of got over-the-top and unbelievable. Most of the parents were all portrayed as really two dimensional in my eyes. And some of them were just so horrible, so one dimensionally mean, that I just couldn't believe it at some point. Only one parent, Eva's father who had lost his wife which sent him into his own depression, felt real to me.
The characters were all fleshed out, and I understood their motives. Everyone had this excessive baggage, stuff that'd be so hard to deal with. I just didn't connect to some of the characters as much as I would've liked to. I felt for Jason the most, just because his father was so, so horrible. I liked Kelly's narrative the best. Hers felt honest and real to me, and I feel like she grew the most out of everyone. Christopher's bored me at points. Of course he's the sheltered church boy, so what's to be expected? His chapters were these really long and rambling paragraphs that I'd find myself skimming at points just to get to the next part. Which, I guess that's what his character was. Boring. But it wasn't really good for holding a readers attention. I think the book would've benefited more if it was written between Kelly and Jason, because Jason interested me much more.
My favorite character was Shirley, the Group Councilor. She cracked me up! She wouldn't take anybody's shit, and I loved that. She has this acronym for the word fine that is "F-ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional." I thought that was funny and clever on the author's part. But while she was tough, she really cared about those kids. She praised them when they deserved it, and ridiculed them when they screwed up. She really acted like the mother figure for those kids.
I found myself having issues with the language itself in this book. Now, I don't mind profanity and swearing at all in books, because teens do swear occasionally, so why censor this? But the swearing in this was excessive. That didn't even bother me too much, considering it was a book set at a rehab. What did start to bother me were some of the conversations that got so obscene, I actually cringed at points. It was only once or twice, but it just wasn't necessary in my opinion. So if you have a problem with profanity in books, this definitely isn't a read for you.
This book isn't about drugs. It's a book about the effect of drugs, and finally realizing you aren't alone no matter how much you feel it. There's always someone out there who understands what you're going through and wants to help. It's a powerful read, despite some of the issues I may have had with it. It's themes are similar to those of Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. If you like raw, honest narration, I'd say to give it a go. In the end, I'm glad I read this. It wasn't the most spectacular read, but it definitely makes you appreciate what you have.