In the very cluttered arena of teen issues and the YA books that delve into them, Amy Reed’s new novel, CLEAN definitely stands out.
The story takes place inside a rehab clinic for teens, and has multiple POV’s from each of our characters:
Olivia – the girl from the perfect life who somehow can’t live up to her family’s idea of what she should be, and gives herself a heart attack from diet pills.
Kelly – a coke addict who has been trying to erase the memory of rape, but will now give herself over to anyone in order to score another hit.
Christopher – the home-schooled church-boy, whose obese mother can’t climb to his second floor bedroom to catch him smoking meth.
Jason – a boy trying to fill the image of the man his father thinks he should be, giving him a beer to chug at age nine and buying him a hooker for his twelfth birthday.
Eva – the kind-hearted Goth who has been trying to piece the shattered bits of her life back together with new friends after her mother’s death, and whose father can’t be distracted from his own grief by the fact that his daughter is an alcoholic.
The story follows the teens from their arrival at rehab to their exit day, through sharing bits of their personal essays, narrative chunks with different POV’s, and Group meetings typed as screenplays. The teen’s views of themselves in contrast to how the other characters see them is very telling, and the reader learns about each person from different angles that cover both their past and present.
This unlikely cast of characters with widely varying voices chisel their way into your heart, until you can’t help but understand why they are the way they are. Teen readers will undoubtedly see family members, friends, and themselves in the pages of CLEAN.