Clean by Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
Why I read this book: Does it sound crazy if I admit to being attracted to books with hard topics like rehab?
Summary: Clean chronicles the lives of five high school teenagers and we’re given an inside look at a month’s stay in rehab. Coke, meth, diet pills, alcohol – the drugs of choice are all different. As are the reasons they ended up there and began doing drugs in the first place.
Kelly is addicted to alcohol and cocaine. It all started with vodka and orange juice.
Christopher is addicted to methamphetamine. His life is perfect and he’s a Christian and there’s no way he’s supposed to have wound up in rehab.
Jason drinks anything he can get his hands on. Who cares if he has a bad attitude and temper? He’s just following in his dad’s footsteps.
Olivia is wealthy and perfect. There’s no way she deserves to be in rehab. She’s only been taking prescription diet pills.
Eva’s dad doesn’t notice her anymore since her mom died. So what if she has to do pot and take prescription pain meds to fit in with her new “friends”?
Sounds like a peachy evening read, huh? My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I described Clean to him. He asked why I’d want to read something like this. I’m just going to fess up and be completely, utterly honest with you for a minute.Â I’m shaking as I type this.
I was Olivia. Go ahead – glance back up there so you can see what she was addicted to. Prescription diet pills. Mine weren’t prescription and I certainly wasn’t wealthy, but I was the high school girl who “filled out” a lot faster than all the other girls. I took diet pills and dropped weight really quickly. I didn’t eat (or barely ate), ran a lot, played every sport, and remember what it was like to feel super dizzy and push my way through it because I needed to be skinny.
That’s why I read books like Clean. To keep me real and honest.
This book wasn’t easy for me to read at all. I had a good friend to pass away in 2011 from anorexia. Not only did Olivia’s story choke me up because I personally connected with her desire to be perfect, but I LOST SOMEONE to that very same disease. Everywhere around us, people are struggling and hurting.
Every one of these kids in rehab had different struggles. We got to know all five of them from their point of view during journals or group sessions, though the majority of the story was told from Kelly and Christopher’s perspective. Reed is a beautiful author. There were a lot of bad, terrible things brought about in Clean, but she eloquently dealt with each of them. She never made me feel hatred toward any of the characters, but I also didn’t sympathize and accept their choices either. There’s a fine balance when telling a story such as this one, but I honestly don’t think that anyone could have done it any better than Reed.
If you are a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson, you will love Clean. I haven’t yet read Reed’s other book, Beautiful, but I will as soon as I can get my hands on it. She has a new novel, Crazy, coming out in June 2012.