Friday, September 30, 2011

Review of Clean

Title: Clean
Author: Amy Reed
Genre: Young adult contemporary fiction
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: July 19th, 2011

When I was growing up, my family moved a lot. Like, a lot. By the time I was 14 I was living in my third state in five years and attending my fifth school. That's when I discovered the library.

I'm not sure if it was just the tiny library in upstate New York, or the general state of YA literature back then, but there was a lot of British YA about drug addicts and delinquent kids. I read everything I could get my hands on, reading as many as 7 or 8 books a week in the summer. So I know about rehab books. And this is not your average rehab book.

CLEAN revolves around five teenagers, each of whom is in recovery from different things and for different reasons. The main narrators are Kelly and Christopher, although we get transcripts from group therapy and excerpts from the teens' entry essays to fill in the blanks. Their stories are surprisingly accessible. I've never had a drug problem but I found myself almost empathizing with Kelly and Christopher. Their voices are so vivid. Their stories get inside of you and live there for a while.

My favorite thing, though, was the transcripts from Group. As a teacher, I'm very sensitive to realistic dialogue. There's nothing I hate more than a good YA book with dialogue that sounds like an adult's idea of what The Kids say to each other. This is not one of those. Amy Reed somehow packs a world of nuance, back story, and group dynamics into Group sessions characterized by the monosyllabic, evasive responses to questions posed by the Group leader.

I loved this book. I'm going to read BEAUTIFUL next, and then eagerly await whatever Amy Reed is working on now.

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