Clean (by Amy Reed)

18 05 2013

cleanAmy Reed’s debut novel Beautiful didn’t much leave an impression on the cat. However, when a student tells you that the book they just read was “one of the best books they’ve ever read”, you  better make sure you order more of that author, because you know they’ll come back for more, so I had to go out and order Clean.  Unfortunately, this sophomore book didn’t leave any lasting impression, either… (by which I in no way want to belittle this particular student’s reading experience!).

Beautiful still had a certain focus and drive, and that is exactly what Clean misses in my opinion. In Clean we meet 5 teens in rehab, each with their own drug of choice, each with their own background, each with their own set of problems. The only thing they have in common is their addiction.  The way we meet them is too disjointed, though, to make me really care about any of them. I mean, when you read about 5 teenagers in rehab, I guess you should at least feel some of their pain, some of their anger, some of their fear, some of their emotions… but sadly, I didn’t feel anything at all. The fragmentary structure of this novel is just not working for me. Once you get somewhat familiar or close to one of the protagonists, their narrative is cut short for another patient’s narrative or a snippet from their group sessions. This type of structure seems too haphazard for the topics dealt with, despite the fact that Reed’s flow (as in Beautiful) will get you through this in no time.

Most of all, though, this book felt unfinished and underdeveloped. It was more like a draft of a book, than an actual fully developed novel, with 5 clear protagonists who each have their own equally important storyline. If Reed had focused on just Olivia, or Christopher, or any of them really, this book could have been a lot more powerful and I may have cared more about the characters than I did…, which was lukewarm, at best.

Finally, I also think Clean was not researched as well as it should have been. Olivia, for instance, has more than one life-threatening condition, and treating one, but not the other while it’s so abundantly clear to everyone that she is starving herself, is just not how “real” therapy would work. Olivia would not just have been in a regular “rehab” center!

If students come up to me and ask for more Amy Reed stuff, I’ll order it, for sure, but I think I’ll pass on reading them myself, thank you very much…


PS. no special cover this time…



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