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CLEAN by Amy Reed


by Amy Reed

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4424-1344-3
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

An affecting drama about five teenagers in an upscale rehab facility for drug addiction.

The story begins with the arrival of Olivia, an anxious rich girl who abuses diet pills. She is placed in a counseling group with four other recognizable characters: an emo goth girl, the angry son of an abusive father, a Christian homeschooler and a hypersexual girl with low self-esteem. Olivia, Eva, Jason, Christopher and Kelly take turns narrating, sometimes in straight prose, sometimes in alternating journal paragraphs on an addiction-related theme. Each chapter is short, and some have no single narrator; facilitated group sessions appear as transcripts, and a few chapters are poemlike pastiches of the five teens' words. The author handles complex issues deftly and honestly, from family dysfunction to attempted rape. Interactions between the teens feel genuine, and the story is aware both of its rarefied setting (“The only things you have going for you are race and money and the fact that someone cares enough about you to get you help,” no-nonsense counselor Shirley lectures) and the statistical likelihood that one rehab stint will not end the teens' struggles with addiction.

The hard-hitting scenarios and abundance of white space make this a perfect suggestion for Ellen Hopkins fans. (Fiction. 14 & up)