Clean Review

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Title: Clean
Author: Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: August 9, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley/Publisher

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.
Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason and Eva have next to nothing in common except their addictions, but even their addictions are nothing like each other's. Each facing emotional baggage, addiction and a desire to lose themselves, they're forced into rehab in Seattle to regain a handle on their lives and get back to the promising futures they once had. To change though, they must first admit their problems before they can take the necessary steps to get better. Some want to, but the others are in denial. One thing is certain - they have to learn to accept themselves, but they might just need each other to do so.

I don't read too many books about addiction. Disorders, yes. Diseases and death, yes. Addictions though...not so much, and I don't know why. Addiction is not something I'm really familiar with, but I know that it can grip one's life and never let go. Clean does a remarkable job of accurately portraying addiction, the effects it has on one's life and what might be behind a teen's addiction, as well. Amy Reed presents the reader with a no-holds-barred account of life in the grips of an addiction that's debilitating to the minds, bodies and souls of everyday teens. Filled with raw emotion, realistic situations and a powerful, resonant theme, Clean is tangible and powerful.

I think one of the most intriguing things about Clean was the style in which it was written. I have a fascination with books and authors that break the mold and dare to do something a little different. In the case of Clean, the book is told through a series of essays, narratives and sessions, lending the reader an insider perspective to the teens' lives in rehab. This could easily have been botched and felt false, but Clean presented it in a very real, believable manner, making the characters relatable and harrowing. I felt for them. I laughed for them, and I definitely teared up for them, as well. Though featuring a large cast of characters, Clean managed to fully flesh out each one, too, and each character had a specific impact on the book, which was great. The only issue I really had with Clean was the crass language that was so prominent throughout. Don't get me wrong...I know that teens swear. Hell, I swear. That said, I don't necessarily want to read it on every page to the extent that it actually makes me cringe. However, the positives did outweigh this negative for me in Clean.

All in all, Clean was a powerful and intriguing read that made me step out of my comfort zone and read about something new. I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and issue books. I also recommend it to an upper YA audience due to graphic language.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I have read some books on addiction, but only adult ones. Clean sounds like an intense, thought-provoking read. It's interesting that Clean has been told through essays, narratives and sessions. However, like you, overuse of swear words in books annoys me too. Great review!

  2. I have read Amy's other book Beautiful and it is absolutely gut-wrenching hold nothing back type of read too. I am looking forward to this one. Great review Melissa :)

  3. Sound emotionally intense, but am very intrigued with the format as I love it when an author tries something different too. I am glad you pointed this out as I probably wouldn't have reached for this one otherwise. Great review

  4. Those are sure some issues to tackle in a book. Never read anything like it, with a YA setting that is

  5. Oh, too bad, I was hoping it get a better rating! I plan on reading this one soon. Thanks for the review!

  6. I've had similar experiences with crass language appearing on nearly every page of a book. While it doesn't always offend me, it IS annoying to read through.

    Thanks for the review, Melissa. :]

  7. I've read alot of books on food addiction but not substance abuse. The format of the novel is interesting to me; the fact that the author was able to develop fully fleshed out characters using that unusual style is impressive.

  8. I swear like a sailor a lot of the time, but somehow reading those same words I often say always tend to bother me a bit more than hearing them said aloud. I have no idea why. Stunning review Melissa, I bow down to your review writing abilities:)

  9. I haven't really heard a lot about this book but based on your review it sounds like something enjoy. Thanks for the review! I'll keep an eye out for this one ^-^

  10. My interest is definitely piqued by the way in which the story is told...I might need to check Clean out! I'm not too familiar with books on addiction, either, so Clean would probably be a good start. Great review! :)

  11. Good on you for stepping out of your reading comfort zone. Like you, I'm not a big fan of books about addiction but this one sounds like it was well done. Think I'll have to check it out!
    Happy reading,
    Mary @ Book Swarm

  12. Like you I really liked the set up of the book. It was nice to see different aspects of each character as they progressed through treatment. Great job stepping out of your comfort zone!

  13. I've never really been a fan of issue books but I do like how this one sounds a bit unique in the way that it's told. Perhaps I should give it a try seeing as how it's been many years since I've given an issue book a go. I might find that I enjoy them more now than I did.

  14. I just got this one from the Galley Grab, Im still going to read it, even though it sounds a little disappointing...;( Great review Melissa!!

  15. Sounds like a hard hitting book. I always get a little anxious but always come out learning a thing or two :)

  16. Sounds very interesting. I like books that take chances with format - be it verse or tweets, etc. You're right that it so often fails miserably. So it's extra impressive when it works out.
    I don't see many addiction books either. Guess there's more of a stigma around addictions than disorders.

  17. Hmm, I'm not sure I'd like all the swearing. It's not quite the same reading it as when you do it yourself is it lol. I've never read an 'addiction' book either. I'm not sure how I feel about that at all.

  18. Funny how you said you don't read about addiction much because when I first saw this review, I thought "Wow, Melissa read another book about addition."

    I don't know why I had that impression. LOL

    I think the new writing styles that I've seen emerging sometimes work but mostly flop, so it's good to know that it worked for you here.

  19. This one was out of my comfort zone too, but it was good. I liked the narration style, too.

  20. Nice review. Did the language maybe work as a substitute for their addictions or come from their frustration? Or were they on the streets when they were "at rock bottom" as the book blurb says?
    Maybe that was why they used so much bad language?
    I like the way you said she formatted the book and I've never read a book on addiction. I think I'll give this one a try.


  21. Addiction is an interesting phenomenon and I have to admit that I haven't read many books that explore it. This sounds like a really interesting read. Great review!


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