When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. Because rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.
From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all …
It’s a dirty business getting clean.
Clean by Juno Dawson is a young adult novel set inside an expensive rehab facility on a secluded island.
Clean is a really honest representation of recovering from addiction. There are setbacks. There are complications. There are relapses. Recovery is not a linear process.
I think it’s really important for teenagers to read about addiction and how it can affect your life, but I also think it’s really important for them to see what recovery looks like. It isn’t pretty.
“I check the other messages. Mummy asks how I am and is then sniffy when I haven’t replied. I do so now and tell her my phone was stolen by Muslim immigrants outside Clapham Junction. This plays gloriously into about nine of her prejudices.”
Lexi Volkov is a pretty horrible person — self-centred, cynical, judgemental, rude and incredibly privileged. She does grow over the course of the novel, but she is still incredibly flawed by the conclusion of the book.
She’s from a wealthy family and is adored and can get away with pretty much anything. Her brother Nikolai is the only person who wants her to take responsibility for her actions. She enters the exclusive rehab centre Clarity with a heroin addiction and meets other addicts who are all filthy rich and in need of recovery.
“I grab a rock and hurl it at the sliding doors. It pings off without even making a scratch. I try again, pelting stone after stone at the window. How sodding thick is the glass? By the time the nurses come running in, I’ve crumpled to the floor, my energy sapped. As they try to restrain me, I start to lash out with the now empty bowl.”
Juno Dawson tackles addiction with brutal honesty. There are many unpleasant moments in the novel. Each character in rehab is struggling with some sort of addiction, and their road to recovery is not going to be easy.
But at the same time, the book has heart. There are moments of humour and self-realisation. This book is as addictive as the drugs in the story, and I devoured the novel. I found myself really invested in the storylines and the character journeys. I wanted to know how each character was going to progress through the novel.
“I bristle at the quasi-religious flavour of that word. You don’t face temptation, you face life. Life is full of nice things that are bad for us. Temptation is just a fancy word for wanting them. It’s the same as ‘demons’. The first time someone says I have ‘demons’ I’m out of here. I don’t need an exorcist. I need a drink.”
The writing is incredibly compelling, enticing the reader with flawless dialogue, prose and pacing. The chapters are short and the cast intriguing. I wanted to know more about all of these characters, and they have been brought to life so vividly.
Juno has captured their voices so well — they’re all incredibly unique, and therefore you sympathise and empathise with them and you keep reading because you want to find out what happens.
I appreciate that Juno doesn’t romanticise illness or addiction. It’s important for these characters to recover, and not just mask their problems with a relationship. It’s rare to see that in young adult fiction, and it’s one of the things I loved about this novel.
Clean is described as Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted and will appeal to fiction lovers and readers of contemporary young adult fiction. It’s hard-hitting, unapologetic, bold, ugly and compulsive.
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Hachette Book Publishers