Taking a break from the run of romance novels as Books of the Week to go for something completely different: Juno Dawson’s new YA novel Clean. There were a couple of strong contenders for BotW, but this blew me away when I read it. You will be hearing more of some of the other books from last week though – there’s one on there that’s not out in the UK yet that’s definitely going on one of my summer reading list posts at the very least.
Clean is the story of Lexi Volkov, the socialite daughter of a Russian hotel millionaire who definitely isn’t hooked on hard drugs and really doesn’t need to be in rehab. Or at least that’s what she’d thinks. She’s been checked into an exclusive treatment centre by her brother after nearly overdosing and the book follows her as she works her way through her treatment. This is a Young Adult book, but it is dealing with a properly adult subject matter and in a very upfront way and realistic way. I think this is one for the older end of the YA market – probably over 14 – maybe a bit older – although I was definitely reading stuff like this by GCSE sort of stage. I found this so readable that I wanted to keep going – but had to take a break or two because it is a lot to take in and deal with.
Lexi is a brilliant character – at the start she is very abrasive and incredibly hard to like – and that’s by design I think. It’s her addictions and the selfishness of the addict speaking rather than her real personality. I only really started to like her about two thirds of the way through – may be later – and started really wanting her to succeed but even then she had her moments. The book is also packed with interesting characters and great representation. I don’t have any experience of inpatient treatment, but the book felt like was based on fact and reality – even if sometimes I wondered if there shouldn’t be some more staff around. But then a bit of artistic licence is definitely allowable, and anyway as I’ve said – I don’t know anything about the reality of an expensive private rehab facility. I did have a few other minor quibbles and thought the ending was really clever – but I can’t say much more about any of that without spoiling things and breaking my rules about that sort of thing.
What I will say though is that this probably needs a trigger warning for pretty much everything – and not just for the drug taking and drug addiction. As I said earlier, it’s definitely for the older end of the YA market, and I needed to take breaks while reading this. But then as I’m a massive wimp who often doesn’t read books like this because they’re too dark for me, that’s probably not surprising.
I got my copy of Clean via NetGalley, but it’s out now and available in all the usual formats – Kindle and Kobo (and only £2.99 at time of writing) as well as paperback from all the usual sources. I’d also expect to be able to find this fairly easily in an actual bookshop and may be even the supermarkets.. I’ve got another of Dawson’s earlier YA books sitting on the TBR shelf along with her non-fiction adult book The Gender Games and this has made me thing that I really need to get to them sooner rather than later.