Author: Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 8th, 2012
Five teenagers. Five different addictions. One rehab center.
My Summary: For Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva, teenage life is a harsh wake up call. These teens aren't worrying about prom, or passing English honors. They've been forced into a Seattle rehab center with little choice but to face each other day after day and learn to come to terms with the mistakes they've made, even if it was never their fault to begin with. Despite how supportive, rich, abusive, uncaring, or naive each of their parents might be, in the end, they're all facing the same obstacles together. But it's not too late for them to change.
My Review: There is something about Amy Reed's writing style that leaves me feeling cold and unsettled. The message she conveys in her story is loud, brilliant, and perceptively shattering. Her complete regard for censorship, or lack thereof, is simply brave and eye-opening. We need more young adult writers like her.
Everything about Clean was raw and completely sincere. Reed depicts these teenagers at the lowest point in their lives: all feeling vulnerable and uncertain of what is to come. Through a series of personal essays and introspective questionnaire questions, the reader is invited to lift the curtain and take a small peak into each teenager's life. Each has a unique and heartbreaking story. I felt as if I was standing at a window and peering into the fictional rehab center where all five teens were having seemingly day to day conversations. But it's evident that everyone is trying to cope with the hardships of life while trying to appear strong.
I especially found the title of the story, Clean, to be thought-provoking in itself. After I finished the very last sentence, I spent moments pondering the single word that described all five teenagers. Clean. It might symbolize their clean bodies, free from alcohol and other abusive substances. However, I feel that Clean most accurately depicts how each and every one of them felt on the inside after discovering blooming friendships and most importantly, self-respect for themselves. It shocked me how each of the characters transformed into someone more confident and beautiful just by being around people who cared. Nobody is ever truly alone.
Clean was a beautiful read that I simply could not put down. Never have I read a book so honest. Sure, some readers might think that it's another sob story about drug abusive teens. But I invite you to explore the encoded meaning beyond every quip and insecure quote. This book was not meant to make you cry, or feel pity. I think each of the characters, Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva were depicted to represent what we dislike about ourselves. Feeling physically unattractive, feeling worthless, feeling insecure, feeling disappointment, and feeling unwanted. In the end, not everybody in life is going to treat you with the respect you deserve. But maybe if you're lucky, you can find those people who can help you become the best you can be.
Brava Ms. Reed. Clean is a story that should be read by teenagers and adults alike all over the world, not only to promote the negative effects of drug abuse, but to show the rawest type of beauty and power in unlikely friendships.