Clean by Mia Kerick


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Two high school seniors grapple with family and school pressures and try to break free of drugs and alcohol in Kerick’s (Come to my Window, 2015, etc.) YA novel.

On the surface, Lanny Keating and Trevor Ladd have nothing in common. Lanny is a star athlete and an excellent student from a good family who’s well on his way to earning a college football scholarship. Underneath his façade of perfection, however, he hides feelings of guilt and remorse; he blames himself for an accident that left his sister, Joelle, with a traumatic brain injury. Trevor is a lackluster student whose legal guardian, Carl, sexually and physically abuses him on a regular basis. Despite their differences, Lanny is drawn to Trevor and the two begin an intense relationship involving sexual exploration and alcohol and drug abuse. As their partying escalates, Lanny’s life falls apart: his grades plummet, he’s kicked off the football team, and he comes perilously close to failing his senior year. Meanwhile, Trevor wants to escape Carl’s abuse and knows that education is the key to a new life. As their senior year draws to a close, they both race against time to graduate and find sobriety. Kerick has crafted a sensitive but unflinching portrait of teenagers struggling to stop the cycle of addiction. The narrative offers well-developed characters and a strong story structure. Although the two young men come from different backgrounds, both turn to self-medication to mask the painful feelings that plague them. The author’s approach to her lead characters successfully conveys the message that their problems aren’t related to their socioeconomic backgrounds. Lanny and Trevor’s relationship never strikes a false note, as the chapters effectively show the events from both characters’ perspectives.

A compassionate look at the harrowing problem of addiction, anchored by strong characters and a message of hope.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2015
Page count: 242pp
Publisher: YoungDudes Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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