05. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Clean by Amy Reed, 304 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/26/2012

Eva, Christopher, Olivia, Kelly and Jason are all addicts and have all found themselves in the same rehab facility. Each has a different addiction that they believe defines them, but in the course of their treatment, they discover that they have far more in common than they had at first believed. Told in alternating narratives with journal excerpts and group session dialogues, the book details the wide variety of forms addiction can take. What really sets this book apart from the rest of the “teens-in-rehab” oeuvre are the characters themselves. Eva is addicted to alcohol and painkillers. She has lost her mother and her father has grown distant. Christopher is the only son of a morbidly obese, fanatically religious and completely oblivious mother. He has spent the vast majority of his young life in church and is home-schooled. Christopher is, on the surface, a good Christian boy. So why does he wind up in rehab for meth addiction? Olivia’s story is perhaps the saddest of all. Under pressure from her family to be as ambitious as they, Olivia begins taking the diet pills that her mother got her a prescription for. The diet pills take their toll and cause her to OD in the street while out for a run. Kelly loved alcohol and cocaine. Until she drove her car into the neighbor’s front porch. Jason is the angriest of all them. He’s an alcoholic weighed down by terrible guilt. They’re an odd bunch and none would likely have been friends outside of the rehab center, but over the course of a month, they’ll realize that these are the best friends they’ve ever had.
Completely compelling and slightly off-beat, this problem novel rises above many of the others. There are no easy answers here and there’s no way to tell whether their stint in rehab is enough to keep these kids sober. Hopefully teens going down this path will pick up this book and see a bit of themselves in it, enough to pause and consider their own situation. A listing of resources for drug addiction at the end would have been beneficial, however. This is an important issue and one that many teens may not know how to address.

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