THE PLOT: Clean by Juno Dawson is about a privileged 17-year-old girl who goes to rehab for a heroin addiction. Lexi Volkov is an heiress and socialite who is big on the London party scene. Pills, cocaine, heroin, it’s all par for the course when she goes out to flashy events with her edgy boyfriend. But when she almost overdoses, her brother ships her off to an exclusive rehab facility. As she faces her demons and makes friends at the facility, Lexi begins to accept she has a problem. Yet, can she face the true reasons that led her to abuse drugs in the first place…?
RATING: Well-written and well-plotted, with the right mix of humour and emotion, this is undoubtedly a four-star novel. It’s a classic young adult (YA) fiction, with a bit more grit and edge. Not for the faint-hearted, it includes A LOT of swearing and descriptive scenes of drug use, as well as eating disorders, self-harm and a myriad of other mental health issues. However, this is why I loved it. A YA novel that is raw, honest and doesn’t patronise its readers will always have a place in my heart.
GOOD BITS: Although this book deals with some dark themes, the character of Lexi was really fun. In particular, I loved how her friendship with transgender anorexic Kendall developed. It was well plotted with a good mix of flashback and first-person narration, then some exciting moments ramped up to a huge climax.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: I felt like most of the characters at the rehab facility were one-dimensional. Given the scope of issues dealt with in the novel, I understand why it needed to fall back on some tropes. But, the black girl was a sassy overweight, American and the boy with OCD was a posh, white guy who went to Eton. It felt like the author wanted to be diverse but was held back from going all the way to create more complex side-characters.
OVERALL: If you’re a fan of Gossip Girl, this is a book for you. I’d also recommend this novel for fans of Junk by Melvin Burgess and the Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison. Despite the dark themes, it’s a funny book which was easy and quick to read so it dragged me out of a reading slump.