Book Information

Reader Personality Type
Simon Pulse, 2011
Science Curriculum

"All your children are poor unfortunate victims of systems beyond their control. A plague upon your ignorance and the gray despair of your ugly life. “

Where did Annie go when she went to town? Who are all those creeps that she brings around?

All your children are poor unfortunate victims of lies you believe.
A plague upon your ignorance that keeps the young from the truth they
-- Frank Zappa,"Lonely Little Girl"

"I get to the lunchroom, and everyone from Group is already there, sitting together like the strangest assortment of people you've ever seen. 'Look,' Eva says, pointing at a new skinny girl leaving the food line.

"'Go get her,' Jason says, so I walk over and ask her to sit with us, and she looks at me like I'm crazy, which I'm used to, so I just grab her arm that's literally as thin as a stick and drag her over to our table.

"There are four of us already, and the new girl makes five. We've been waiting for our fifth since Jesse got kicked out on Tuesday for stealing Kelly's underwear. I'm the nerdy guy, Kelly's the pretty girl, Jason's the tough guy, and Eva's the emo/goth girl, like we're some drug addict version of that movie The Breakfast Club from the eighties, all sitting together like it's the most natural thing in the world even though anyone who saw us would be thoroughly confused. What happens next I guess you could call a
conversation, but it's more like a firing squad, and the new girl is our victim."

CLEAN is the story of five teen drug addicts in a rehab facility. As with The Breakfast Club, CLEAN succeeds in a big way because we come to really care about this quartet of characters, and their individual and intersecting stories leave us really thinking.

As we come to know each of the characters -- through narrative from the points of view of each of the five teens; through the many snippets of writings that each of them is required to do; and through the dialogues transcribed from Group time -- we come to see that each of these adolescents is both lucky and unlucky.

On one hand, they are alive and in a safe place. Had they been from less privileged economic circumstances, members of this quintet could have easily ended up in prison for their transgressions rather than in this expensive rehab facility. On the other hand, all five have had to go through some really tough and ugly stuff, sometimes stuff for which parents are to blame and sometimes stuff for which nobody is really to blame.

And, unfortunately, all five of these teens have the brain chemistry that results in their falling victim to various drugs. These five are drug addicts, five kids with a life-threatening disease. But with recognition of that condition and a lot of hard work, they can -- one day at a time -- endeavor to stave off the disease:

"I don't feel great.but I don't feel terrible, either, and I guess that's how normal people feel most of the time. They live in the space between black and white, and their ups and downs are various shades of gray, not the extreme highs and lows I've always thought of as normal. I think that's one of the major differences between us and them, between addicts and Normies. Somewhere along the line we got stuck on this roller coaster that only knows how to go to the highest up and the lowest low. We get high so we can feel invincible and perfect, but the feeling never lasts. Gravity always wins and we fall fast, to a place lower and darker than many people will probably ever know. And the crazy thing is that this is just normal for us.We cycle through these extremes all the time, and it's become as natural as breathing. Exhausting,but natural."

Following these five characters through their month of rehab, CLEAN is one of those high-interest gulp-it-down-in-one-sitting compelling and extremely satisfying teen reads. All those terrible things that naysayers of YA lit complain about? This has plenty of that stuff.

Don't miss it. Ages 14 and up 288 pages

Recommended by Richie Partington, MLIS, California
Visit Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_

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