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I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ...

It's a dirty business getting clean ...

399 pages, Paperback

First published April 5, 2018

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About the author

Juno Dawson

43 books1,219 followers
Previously wrote under the name James Dawson

Queen of Teen 2014 Juno Dawson is the multi award-winning author of six novels for young adults. In 2016, she authored the best-selling World Book Day title: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE.

Her next novel is the beautiful and emotive MARGOT & ME (Jan 2017) which will be followed by her adult debut, the memoir THE GENDER GAMES (Jul 17).

Juno also wrote the bestselling non-fiction guide to life for young LGBT people, THIS BOOK IS GAY. In 2016 a follow-up, MIND YOUR HEAD, featured everything a young person needs to know about mental health.

Juno is a regular contributor to Attitude Magazine, Glamour Magazine and The Guardian and has contributed to news items on BBC Women’s Hour, Front Row, ITV News, Channel 5 News, This Morning and Newsnight concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education.

Juno’s titles have received rave reviews and have been translated into more than ten languages around the world.

Juno grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. She later turned her talent to journalism, interviewing luminaries such as Steps and Atomic Kitten before writing a weekly serial in a Brighton newspaper. In 2015, Juno announced her intention to undergo gender transition and live as a woman.

Juno writes full time and lives in Brighton. In her spare time, she STILL loves Doctor Who and is a keen follower of horror films and connoisseur of pop music. In 2014 Juno became a School Role Model for the charity STONEWALL.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 740 reviews
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books1,010 followers
May 1, 2018
I really enjoyed this gritty novel about a privileged teenage girl forced to go to rehab. Lexi is a likeable character because she knows just how lucky she is that she doesn’t have to worry about money. It’s not always easy to get me to like the super wealthy.

The book begins with Lexi’s brother Nikolai bringing her to an exclusive rehab center that, except for the lack of alcohol, sounds like a luxury vacation. Coming off heroin is brutally described. Lexi throws quite the temper tantrum, but Dr. Goldstein has seen this many, many times before. It’s all in a day’s work for him.

When she’s detoxed from the drugs, Lexi meets the cast of damaged, wealthy characters (all under the age of 24) who are also trying to get well from their addictions. Anorexia, overeating, sex addiction, and, of course, the various substances they take to avoid dealing with life.

While I’m neither a drug addict nor a wealthy British teenager, I found myself identifying with all the characters. It was a fast, compelling read, and it seemed true to life. It’s very well written.


For more reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
November 21, 2018
A note before my review:
This book requires so many content warnings that a list of them would be longer than my review. Think carefully before picking up Clean, don't be afraid to put it down and take some time, leave it altogether if you need to. It's about a myriad of addicts and their issues and their treatment.

5 Words: Privilege, family, friendship, life, change.

5 More Words: Clean, addiction, strength, abuse, toxicity.

Clean is dirty privilege and a messed up cast, an ugly story brought to life with beautiful writing. Clean is glorious.

I knew from the very beginning that I would like this book. It is as challenging to read as it is compelling. It hits so many hard topics right at the core, but works through them, exploring the good and the bad. I could not put it down.

Lexi is a fantastic protagonist. She changes and grows, and her journey is incredible. She is no-nonsense and sharp, and I think I regarded her with more than a little awe by the end. She is entangled in so many toxic relationships (my catnip) and bad situations. I love her determination; not to change, to change. I love her conviction in herself; not having a problem, having a problem. Once she is sure, she is sure, and it takes a heck of a lot to challenge that.

This book is luxurious. Lexi lives a life of privilege, Clarity is an expensive and exclusive treatment facility. It's like Gossip Girl meets Skins meets Junk, complete with fashion, pop culture, drama, and basic bitches.

The story is split into the recovery steps from the Clarity program, and they very cleverly add to the story and make it all the more powerful.

As I read the final pages, all at once I wanted more and I wanted it to end. The story circles back in on itself as you read in the most wonderful ways, and I loved the choppy narrative and the slow reveal of past events.
Profile Image for Tammie.
217 reviews55 followers
April 29, 2018
Clean was a solid 3.5 for me. A YA book that deals with some heavy issues-drugs, sex, relationships, family dynamics, weight, and gender issues.

Lexi Volkov is an “it” girl-wealthy, spoiled, pretty, popular, and a party girl. Lexi’s party girl mentality and serious substance abuse issues lands her in rehab-an exclusive one at that. Clean details Lexi’s time in rehab, as well as her past so readers can try to understand why Lexi got to this point.

I would highly recommend Clean to mature readers that don’t mind a dark and gritty book. The book is well-written and full of interesting characters. The ending seemed a little rushed but overall a very good book.
Profile Image for Lo.
201 reviews54 followers
March 12, 2020
When thinking about how to review this book the one word that keeps coming to my mind is addictive (cliched I know!)!

If it wasn't for the fact that I have to work (to make enough money to buy more books!) then I would have finished this in one sitting. It was almost impossible to put the book down and when I did I was constantly thinking about when I could read it again. Then when I finished it I was left with a feeling both of complete satisfaction but also wanting to read about these characters lives more.

This has been one my favorite reads of 2018, and the best book that I have read in a while. The author's style of writing is engaging and flows with such ease that you can get lost in the world that she has created. Not only is the writing beautiful but the characters created feel so real and tangible that I couldn't help but really get behind them. Finally, by the time that I put the book down I felt like I had been through therapy myself in the best possible way, there are so many moments of insight that took my breath away and caused me to stop and think about the human experience and the factors that can lead to drug addiction, sex addiction, anorexia or obesity.

The story revolves around Lexi, a Russian born hotel heiress and her time in treatment facility for addition. During the first couple of pages I did question if I was going to enjoy a book with a privileged lead character who didn't think that she had a drug problem, however, within the first 10 pages I found that I really liked this complex character and was rooting for her. She is astutely aware of the fact that she lives a privileged life and the benefits that come from having to never worry about money, even down the luxurious rehab that she had access to, and this is written in such a way that it feels honest in her awareness and her limited ability to fully comprehend this. Throughout the book, you begin to understand how she ended up addicted to drugs and you feel her struggles as if they are happening to you. The way the detox is described is both harrowing and beautiful in its honesty, there is nothing that is glamourized about detoxing from drugs.

The additional cast of characters are also incredible, which is what I think made this book so good, there is not one character that I didn't want to read about. They all had their part play. Whether it was showing the toxicity of some relations, how co-dependency can be risky or the importance of true friends who know your weakness yet still support and love you with no pretence. My favorite was Kendall, a trans character battling anorexia, how she approached both of those elements of herself was one of the best things that I have read in a very long time. I really want to see a story revolving around the friendship of Lexi and Kendall as they learn to live outside of the treatment facility, and face the rest of the challenges that life has to bring. I ended up wanting these people to be real and be my friends!

In all honesty, I couldn't find a flaw with the book it was breathtaking and addictive and I would strongly recommend it. If I could give this book 6 stars, I would.
Profile Image for Danielle's.
Author 1 book140 followers
March 15, 2018
My feelings about Clean are all over the place. It's gritty, harsh and so wrong. Drug addiction will turn anyone inside out. It has the good, bad and ugly. This is Lexi's story and I'll warn you now it's not pretty.

Lexi is a Russian heiress who lives in London. She has access to too much money and doesn't have to work for anything. Her brother sees her downfall. If she doesn't turn her life around this story could only end one way.

Lexi is taken to rehab. She needs it but first, she has to see she has a problem. The rehab clinic is for young adults and is located on an Island. Lexi's drug addiction is so bad she literally takes what is offered. Kurt her boyfriend is also a drug addict and so are most of her friends. Her brother is hoping rehab will take her away from her lifestyle and get her back on a straight path.

Clean tells the story of how Lexi became in her situation and the consequences. It's horrifying to know this is a reflection of addiction. The story is what you would expect. Lexi doesn't appreciate how lucky she is. Everything has always been easy for her. Now she has to struggle to find a future. Her ending is happy but there is no going back.

This book does have some dark humour. It also has adult themes including some which readers may find disturbing. It doesn't glamorise drug use.

Lexi is a good leading character. I didn't feel sorry for her. She made her own decisions. She's a strong character and true to herself. She comes from money and is comfortable in her own skin.

It has left me a little uncomfy to whether I liked the book or not. A raw story for a gritty read. The book definitely leaves a funny taste in the mouth. The ending is perfect for this book. This book is well thought out, the writing is really good and the storyline is interesting.

I didn't love this book but I didn't hate it. I've decided to rate it 3 stars. It has its highs and its lows. I wish I could give this book 5 stars and 1 at the same time.

I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Inês Sagres.
181 reviews228 followers
April 21, 2019
[EN] Lexi went too far this time. And her brother is about to end it. She almost died with an overdose. However, that was nothing compared to the nightmare that rehab will be. Getting clean was the first step and it was the hardest. The only thing making the experience bearable is the people that are also on rehab at the clinic. Everyone has a different addiction: some’s addiction is related to drugs, other’s are about food but Brady’s she can’t figure out. But she will, whilst finding a new addiction: love.

[PT] Lexi foi longe demais desta vez. E o seu irmão está prestes a acabar com o problema. Ela quase morreu devido a uma overdose. Ainda assim, isso não é nada quando comparado com o pesadelo que a reabilitação vai ser. Ficar limpa é o primeiro passo e o mais difícil também. A única coisa que torna esta experiência tolerável são as pessoas na clínica. Todos têm uma adição diferente: uns estão relacionados com drogas, outros com comida, mas ela não consegue descobrir a adição de Brady. Mas ela vai descobrir, enquanto descobre uma nova adição: o amor.

Full review available at | Review completa em Under the Pages.

Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,137 followers
July 20, 2018
Juno Dawson has really outdone herself. This is no doubt my favourite of her novels for SO many reasons:
a. the writing. It grabbed my attention from the very first chapter. Lexi's descriptions of taking drugs, being high and then the rapid decline of withdrawal was a very vivid rollercoaster of emotion. The intensity shocked me. As did some of the chosen metaphors (definitely using 'eyes glazed like a Krispy Kreme doughnut' from now on) and the Tic-Tac prank scene.

b. this is so small, but really made the book for me: the sentiment that when you no longer feel safe, you're an adult. That definition of adulthood made me not only think but actual say aloud '...damn.'

c. the characters. Lexi is definitely wild, biting and desperate, but I loved her. I was routing for her, as well as the great cast of secondary characters. I've read a few 'rehab' books and the community/family vibe of that scenario never gets old.

d. the pacing. It honestly felt like I was reading at least three books about Lexi's life, as her backstory at her posh girl's school was unravelled, along with her spoiled yet rocky childhood. Then there was the rehab, but also the explanation of how she got there...along with a romance thread and Lexi generally becoming a better person.

This book not only deserved the hype but exceeded my expectations at the same time. I couldn't recommend it more. 5 stars!
Profile Image for Kate (beautifulbookland).
372 reviews117 followers
February 23, 2018
Well, Lexi’s rehab makes my NHS inpatient experience look a bit naff, really. A mansion on a deserted island? Swimming pools? Balconies? I’m telling ya, when I was at my worst, I would have been all over those features. And not for the relaxation or the views.

Safety risks aside, Juno Dawson actually did a really good job of capturing the life of an inpatient on a mental health ward. There were a few things that were slightly off - like Kendall, the girl with anorexia, not being in a wheelchair despite being critically underweight, and also the lack of night staff on the ward; because if I started running up and down the corridor in the middle of the night like Kendall did at one point, I would have been restrained. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten away with nobody noticing.

A lot of people think that psychiatric hospitals must be awful, and they are. But they’re not all bad. The patients are often some of the kindest, most supportive people you could meet, and the staff come to be a safety crutch for you. You have favourite nurses and HCAs, and you look forward to it when they’re on shift (and when they’re on your enhanced observations? It’s wild. You talk and you do jigsaws and play cards; I mean, when they’re literally stood there watching you shower and sit on the toilet, you form a bond with them, you know?) Juno did a really good job of showing how, being in such a bubble doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When you’re in that situation, you make the most of it, and that’s what Lexi and the rest of the patients do. They rely and support one another, even after discharge.

I also loved the way discharge was feared, because so many people think it’s just black and white and that discharge must be incredibly happy - and it is, but it’s also fucking terrifying. I was in hospital for just under two years, so having to be out and keep myself safe and well and not being able to rely on the staff for support? Terrifying. You go from being in a bubble, closed off from the temptations and dangers of real life, to right out in the thick of it, all the while trying to pick your life back up because everyone and everything else has changed.

Clean is a difficult book to read; it’s gritty and it’s crude and it doesn’t shy away from the lows that come with addictions and mental illness. There were times, mainly when talking about Kendall and her anorexia, where I struggled to continue reading, because my struggles are still raw, but the nature of the subject is in itself a difficult one to read about, even if you didn’t have past experiences.

Lexi is also a difficult character to sympathise with. At first, I put it down to her addiction; she says awful things to people when she doesn’t get her way, which is totally normal, but she didn’t really get any better until the very end of the book. She was spoiled and crude and so judgemental. There were times where she made me think she wasn’t too bad, and then she would go on to make some nasty or judgemental comment and I would go back to hating her.

Also, I can’t really take a seventeen year old who calls their parents “mummy and daddy” seriously. But that’s probably just me.

Apart from Lexi (and all the name dropping; it sort of jarred me a bit), the only other thing that didn’t really work for me was the romance. I just...didn’t really care about it. It sort of reminded me of Big Brother; you know when people go into the BB house and then a few days down the line they say they’re in love? That’s the sort of vibe I got from Lexi and Brady.

Clean is raw and thought provoking. It shows the real steps of recovery; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It shows inpatient relationships in a realistic light, which I adored, and it doesn’t shame therapy. I would definitely recommend this book.

*thank you to the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book*
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,113 followers
July 20, 2018
↠ 4.5 stars

I'm reading quite a few books in the lead up to YALC because I want to be ready by having read a few of the books by authors attending, and Clean is one of them! When I started reading this, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that it was about drug addiction and substance abuse, and sensitive topics were going to be covered. What I wasn't expecting was just how good it was.

Before I start, please be aware this book has parts which are honestly uncomfortable to read. I am not easily put off, but there were scenes in this book which are difficult to digest because of their honest portrayal of the effects drugs can have on a person and their body. Juno Dawson does an incredibly thorough job.

Clean follows a socialite called Lexi Volkov, whose father owns a chain of hotels. Lexi is a drug addict. Lexi also has an adorable brother called Nikolai, who after a dangerously close call, forcibly takes her away to an island rehab.

Lexi has been raised without a care for money, and it is something that is evident in the first few chapters. She does come off as a brat in the first few chapters, but she also has quite a humorous narrative voice. Further into the novel, her bratty, moneyed veneer fades away and it shows that she's quite a good person, deep down. 

The rest of the characters are also brilliantly layered and complex: Kendall, a trans girl who is anorexic; Ruby, who overeats; Brady, a sex addict; Guy, who has OCD; and Sasha, the most difficult character of the lot. They were all wonderfully characterised and I loved the entire lot of them. 

One thing I did not expect was the horsey aspects! The island rehab has some stables and Lexi bonds with a troubled stallion called Storm and I loved this bit because I am equine trash

I absolutely devoured this novel; excuse the pun, but I was addicted. I couldn't put it down, even though I had to because I needed to sleep. It was so so good, and I highly recommend it. The ending was also <333333 so cute. 

TL;DR: A brilliantly honestly and engaging contemporary novel about the affects of substance abuse through the eyes of a privileged London socialite. 

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

This review is also available on my blog
Profile Image for Isabella.
408 reviews103 followers
June 28, 2018
28. Juni 2018
Es ist schwierig, bei Clean alle Triggerwarnungen aufzulisten, aber ich werde es zumindest im Ansatz versuchen: Triggerwarnung für Alkohol- und Drogenmissbrauch, Essstörungen (Magersucht und Esssucht), selbstverletzendes Verhalten, graphische Darstellung von den Begleiterscheinungen von Entzug und sonstigen „Nebenwirkungen“, die mit Abhängigkeiten aller Art kommen.
Ihr seht schon: Bei Clean ist der Titel Programm. Nicht nur, weil es darum geht, wie Lexi und die anderen daran arbeiten, ihre Abhängigkeiten zu überwinden, sondern, weil das Buch das Schöne, meistens aber das Hässliche abbildet.
Jedenfalls in Großteilen.
Was Juno Dawson mit Clean versucht hat, ist bewundernswert, und schwierig, und daher überrascht mich dieser Kritikpunkt nicht weiter: Zwar wird die Geschichte aus Lexis Perspektive erzählt, die unfreiwillig in die Therapie gesteckt wird, aber auch die Schicksale ihrer Mitpatient*innen gehen nicht spurlos an Lexi und den Leser*innen vorbei. So erfahren wir von dem trans Mädchen Kendall, die an Magersucht leidet; oder von Ruby, die esssüchtig ist. Von Guy, der mit einer Zwangsstörung kämpft.
Während ich es toll finde, welche Bandbreite da abgedeckt wird, ist es fragwürdig, ob das im Detail geschieht. Zum Beispiel ist Kendall relativ gut ausgearbeitet – und natürlich eine unglaublich wichtige Repräsentation, gerade, da Juno Dawson selbst trans ist –, wenn auch die Behandlung ihrer Krankheit in der Klinik mir zuweilen etwas suspekt war. Guy und Ruby kamen mir hingegen zu kurz, sodass ich mehr Stichpunkte von ihnen im Hinterkopf behalte als Kohärentes.
Abgesehen von ihnen ist vor allem noch Brady relevant, der … nun, seine Abhängigkeit wäre zu viel verraten. Und hier kommt die Liebesgeschichte ins Spiel.
Vielleicht hatte ich zu viel darauf gesetzt, dass keine vorkommen würde, und war deshalb enttäuscht. Gerade, weil Lexi mit Ko-Abhängigkeit in Beziehungen kämpft und das auch großer Teil ihrer Therapie ist. Ich weiß einfach nicht, wie Leute sich Klinikaufenthalte vorstellen, aber da laufen nicht unbedingt Leute im selben Alter wie man selbst rum (gerade in Kinder- und Jugendkliniken hat man dann mal Zwölf- und Sechzehnjährige beisammen und das macht einen ordentlichen Unterschied), und ganz im Ernst, man hat da in der Regel etwas Besseres zu tun, als sich zu verlieben.
Also, nein. Kein Fan. Dawson konnte mich auch nicht von den beiden überzeugen, weswegen dieser Aspekt wohl Teil meines größten Kritikpunkts ist – zusammen mit der Darstellung des Klinikalltags.
Okay, okay, ich war noch nie in einer Privatklinik. Keine Ahnung, wie die da die Dinge wirklich handhaben. Und ich fand’s toll, dass Dawson auch viele Therapiegespräche eingebaut hat, dass sie überhaupt im Großen und Ganzen einen positiven Klinikaufenthalt eingebaut hat – aber letztendlich war es mir dann doch ein bisschen zu too much. Zum Beispiel joggt Kendall nachts durch die Gänge, ohne jemals erwischt zu werden. Die Patienten können jederzeit ans Meer geraten, generell passieren da andauernd höchstdramatische Dinge. Und ja, keine Frage, das kommt vor – aber nein, normalerweise kommen nicht alle Patienten um fünf Uhr morgens zusammen, um den Sonnenaufgang zu beobachten. Weil sie a) mit ihrem eigenen Kram zu tun haben und b) das kein Aufseher in keiner Welt nicht bemerken oder c) nicht verhindern würde.
Das klingt jetzt härter, als es gemeint war. Ich bewundere Clean wirklich für die Bandbreite und die Diversität (zusätzlich ist Ruby schwarz und Guy schwul), für die Schonungslosigkeit, generell für die Sogwirkung. Man kann gar nicht anders, als darauf zu hoffen, dass es Lexi besser geht, dass man ihr helfen kann, dass sie sich helfen lässt, dass sie ihren Weg geht. Ich habe das Buch in weniger als zwei Tagen verschlungen, es kaum aus der Hand legen können; ich habe viel genickt und mir oft die Tränen aus den Augen geblinzelt. Es ist auch schön, dass Dawson eine Besserungsgeschichte erzählt, uns nicht ewig in Lexis Sumpf mitzieht, sondern aufzeigt, dass es da einen Weg raus gibt. Ich glaube nur, dass es letztendlich ein wenig zu viel für einen einzigen Roman war – neben der Liebesgeschichte, die man meines Erachtens nach gut und gerne hätte streichen können, kamen viele der Einzelschicksale einfach kurz, weswegen das Ende zwangsweise auch zu kurz kam, einerseits überdramatisiert, dann übereilt, dann irgendwie zu kitschig war. Ich bin dennoch froh, zu Clean gegriffen zu haben, und würde es weiterempfehlen; allerdings nur, wenn ihr euch sicher seid, dass ihr mit den Triggern umgehen könnt.

22. Juni 2018
3,5 Sterne – im Großen und Ganzen bin ich positiv überrascht und beeindruckt. (Sonst hätte ich es wohl kaum in anderthalb Tagen inhaliert.)
Profile Image for Janel.
511 reviews90 followers
July 27, 2018
2.5 stars - As much as the premise for Clean is a great one, this novel fell short of my expectations. Interestingly, if you go to buy this book on Amazon, you’ll see it titled as “Clean: The most addictive novel you’ll read this summer” – and it is addictive in its writing style, accessible and fluid, you can easily fly through its 400 pages. However, it wasn’t addictive in the most important way, the way where you want to keep reading because the story is so good. Granted, I read this novel in one-sitting, but that was due to the fact that I read it as part of a readathon; I didn’t abandon it part way through so that shows it can hold your attention to the end, however, it won’t wow you in any way.

Regarding the sensitive subjects featured in this novel, there was never a part that made me angry at the portrayal, so major points to Dawson for handling this subject matter with care. However, I did feel this novel didn’t tackle these issues in any real dept. While this subject matter didn’t offend, it failed to deliver that human connection that made me offer empathy to these characters beyond the generic hope of them getting better. What I mean by that is, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters – Lexi, the main protagonist, if I remember correctly is seventeen years old, but she came across and much younger and this really bugged me as it made it hard for me to believe in her character.

Clean, as it should be, is aimed at readers 14+ so while it’s YA, it’s definitely not suitable for readers younger than that. I’m nearing 30, but I can see the appeal this novel has for younger readers, it addresses topics that are often viewed as taboo – sex, drugs, self-harm etc – and so this book is a great way to get young people talking about these very real issues. However, Lexi is a rich socialite, so I don’t know how relatable she’ll be. Yes, addiction is blind to class, but the ‘rich girl’ protagonist may be hard for some people to identify with. However, this review is my opinion and I could well be wrong.

The ending was a little rushed, and the direction of the plot a little too smooth, in the sense that I expected a lot more ups and downs. Overall, Clean didn’t work for me, I think it was missing the emotion, the heart, the exploration of how addiction and the young takes shape. I’m glad I read it, (even more glad that I borrowed it from the library) because I would have forever been wondering about it, as books with themes of mental health are of great appeal to me, it’s just a shame this one missed the mark – it wasn’t a bad book, rather, I just wanted so much more from it.
Profile Image for Stacey (prettybooks).
515 reviews1,549 followers
July 31, 2018
Lexi Volkov is beautiful, sex-positive, a socialite, the daughter of a rich Russian... and addicted to drugs. When Lexi overdoses and her brother Nikolai takes her to an exclusive rehab facility, The Clarity Centre, she's in for a shock. It's here that she becomes friends with fellow teens, from ex-child star Brady to Kendall, who's transgender and has an eating disorder.

Continue reading this review over on Pretty Books.

Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!
Profile Image for Kirsty.
614 reviews106 followers
July 7, 2018
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley.

I also have a video review of this book, which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjiYx...

Just as a warning, this book has many difficult scenes, which may be triggering to many people, so make sure you do your research before reading.

This is a YA novel about a teenage girl named Lexi, who comes from an incredibly rich and privileged background. It's safe to say that she falls into the wrong crowd, and gets involved in drugs, eventually becoming a heroin addict. The story opens with her brother checking her into rehab, or rather a treatment institution that deals with a variety of addictions.

Lexi changes a lot during the course of this novel. The Lexi we meet in the first few chapters is an annoying self-absorbed little brat, and I loved seeing her develop as the story progressed. She wasn't the only character I loved either. So many of the other patients who were getting help are equally loveable, and feel real and fleshed out.

I have never taken drugs, and certainly wouldn't know what going through heroine withdrawal is like, but the scenes and descriptions felt realistic. They also matched with previous non-fiction books I have read on the subject. Juno Dawson also did a lot of research for this book, and so I feel it is an accurate representation.

One of my favourite things about this book is how effortlessly diverse it is. Some authors feel like they are throwing in diverse characters just for the sake of doing so. Juno Dawson however, creates real, fleshed out diverse characters that feel like they are someone you could know. I won't go into the specific characters and what makes them diverse, as I don't want to accidentally slip into any spoilers.

This was a fantastic page turning read. I wanted to know how everyones stories would end, even though the only perspective is from Lexi. I loved how clever this book was, and it is one of my favourites of the year. As I said at the beginning of this review, this book isn't for everyone. If you do think you would enjoy it though, I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Tamsien West (Babbling Books).
608 reviews323 followers
June 17, 2018
Clean is the latest release by trans author Juno Dawson, it focuses on a teen in rehab for drug addiction. I could not put it down, 5 stars!

Almost a week after finishing this book I am still thinking about it, and the characters in it. It's a terrific example of great writing of characters who are not great people.

Trigger warnings for: drug and alcohol abuse/addiction, eating disorders, suicide, suicidal thoughts, death (overdose), and others - feel free to send me a message if you are concerned. Because of the subject matter there are a lot of sensitive topics explored, and I thought they were dealt with with great respect and caution, not glorifying toxic behaviours. However, if any of these topics are of concern for you I would proceed with caution.
Profile Image for Dean_o.
201 reviews65 followers
September 27, 2018
Yup, this was just really freaking good.

The main character, Lexi, is a super rich, white and priviliged piece of trash when we first meet her. She does not care for anyone but herself and her close group of "friends". Usually I stear clear of those kind of characters cause I can never bring myself to symphatize with them. But Lexi was different.
Her voice drew me in right from the beginning and her descriptions were not only scary but also highly (excuse the pun) addictive.

From what I understand the book chose a very realistic view of addictions, rehab and what that means for yourself. I really enjoyed that. It didn't feel too easy but it made you understand just what needs to change in order for you to handle your addiction and actually survive and live.

There were also a lot of diverse side characters who easily blend into the story and a mtf trans character who I found to be a highly realistic.

Can't wait to read more books from Juno Dawson! Also on an unrelated note, that woman is really beautiful, my god!
Profile Image for Augustė .
30 reviews2 followers
May 4, 2023
Knyga, kaip galima suprasti iš Melvin Burgess „Heroino“ paminėjimo ant viršelio, yra susijusi su narkotikų tema. Leksė – septyniolikmetė, jos tėtis valdo didžiulį tinklą viešbučių. Mergina dažnai leidžia laiką vakarėliuose ir pažįsta daugybę garsenybių. Po vieno vakarėlio Leksė vos neperdozuoja, o vyresnėlis brolis atveža ją į reabilitacijos kliniką. Čia sveiksta ne tik su narkotikais turintys sunkumų jaunuoliai, bet ir su tokiomis problemomis, kaip anoreksija ar savęs žalojimas
Profile Image for Cisz Geverink - Strasters.
739 reviews32 followers
January 15, 2019
"Dan dringt het tot me door. Ik zit hier gevangen. Ik zit in een luxe kooi. Niemand die me komt helpen." ~ p45.

Of het nu een echt gedurft en rauw verhaal is, nee niet echt. Dus als de cover je afschrikt, wees gerust, zo erg is het allemaal niet.

"Het is allemaal zo onwerkelijk. Hoe kan ik nou 'een verslaafde' zijn? Ik ben zeventien." ~ p65.

Clean vertelt het verhaal van Lexi Volkov, een dochter van een rijke vader die zich beweegt in de high sociaty van London. Wanneer ze na een zware overdosis in een exclusieve afkickkliniek terecht komt, wordt ze tijdens een dieptepunt geconfronteerd met haar demonen. Samen met haar medepatiënten, leert ze uit het dal omhoog te klimmen.
Door de cover hoopte ik een boek te lezen dat mij zou shockeren, mij zou verbazen en buiten de YA lijntjes zou kleuren. Helaas stelde het mij daarin teleur, zo heftig was het niet. En ook al doet de auteur zeker moeite om een heftig verhaal neer te zetten, dan nog is het het allemaal net niet, en wordt het uiteindelijk meer een liefdesverhaal. Jammer, want de kern had zeker potentie. Door de afwisseling van heden en verleden wordt het verhaal goed opgebouwd, en krijg je stukje bij beetje meer te zien van Lexi. Het heeft een fijne leesflow, en de personages vullen het verhaal mooi aan. Wat ik fijn vond is de afronding van het verhaal, geen "ze leefde nog lang en gelukkig", maar net even dat beetje meer. Je gunt als lezer Lexi net dat beetje meer, wat voor mij betekend dat de auteur haar goed heeft neergezet.

"Met z'n alle bij elkaar kampen we met meer problemen dan het openbaar vervoer in een gemiddelde werkweek, maar we zijn net een kring van spiegels die naar elkaar toestaan; we kunnen ons niet verbergen - niet voor elkaar en niet voor onszelf." ~ p247.

Absoluut geen slecht verhaal, dus een "gewoon goed" 3 sterren is zeker op zijn plaats. Voor mij helaas geen boek dat er uitspringt, maar wel een die gelezen mag worden!

Profile Image for Denisa Ballová.
337 reviews215 followers
March 14, 2023
Najskôr som sa na nich dívala cez prsty. Deti boháčov, ktoré nevedia, čo od radosti. A namiesto toho, aby investovali do seba - vzdelania, rozhľadu, - míňajú peniaze na alkohol, drogy, či choré vzťahy. Liezla mi na nervy ich rozmaznanosť a krátkozrakosť.

Postupne sa ale môj vzťah k postavám menil. Uverila som im, držala im palce. A to všetko vďaka písaniu Juno Dawson, ktoré ma hnalo dopredu. Jej Čistá nie je prvoplánová, v mnohých smeroch je prekvapivá, nenudí. Otvára témy problémového dospievania. Dawson sa totiž venuje abstinenčných príznakom, hladu, toxickým vzťahom.

Sú títo mladí skôr unudení životom alebo sú jednoducho len nešťastní? Pýtala som sa asi od polovice knihy. Juno Dawson neponúka priamu odpoveď, skôr vás k nej navedie. Nechá na vás, aby ste si na to utvorili vlastný názor. Aj preto vám jej knihu odporúčam.
Profile Image for Aoife.
1,288 reviews546 followers
April 10, 2018
I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers/author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lexi Voltov has everything a girl can dream of thanks to her dad being the owner of a luxury empire of hotels. But Lexi is a heroin addict and soon finds herself in a treatment centre for well-off young adults with addiction problems.

I loved this book! From the very first few sentences, this is genuinely a story that I could not put down and I absolutely flew through it. The story not only has excellent characters with all sorts of diversity rep and stories but also has a really intersting location and tone to it.

Lexi is a really great character. She is utterly despicable when we first meet her and says and thinks terrible things. Really terrible things. But like Dr Goldstein said in the book, we soon find out that the Lexi we first meet is her addiction wearing her, and we start discovering the wonderful person she is and who she has been hiding away from some kind of reasons.

I loved the friendships that Lexi has in Clarity. The group of people were wonderfully diverse - there’s fat rep, characters of colour, trans rep, people suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, self harm etc.

I want to also add that there was period representation in this book which I love and is so important. The therapy Lexi goes through while in Clarity is also portrayed in a really good light - she only resists the therapy at first but then she and her doctor start having really frank conversations and end up having a really lovely relationship. Also a bonus point for having horses in it.

Loved this, and loved the emphasis at the end that sometimes the first time doesn’t always work out so well. Try, and try again until you succeed and live the way you want to.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ivonne.
Author 1 book95 followers
July 19, 2018
Diese Rezension enthält Spoiler.

Bewertung: 3.5 Sterne

“Ein Buch, das unter die Haut geht: scharfsinnig, scharfzüngig und schmerzlich realistisch”, so bewirbt der Carlsen Verlag dieses Buch. Ich habe noch nie ein Buch über Drogenmissbrauch gelesen; generell bin ich sehr wenig darüber informiert. Das einzige Mal, dass ich irgendwie mit Drogen in Berührung kam war, als damals ein Mädchen an unserer Schule glaubte, es sei cool, Ecstasy mit in die Schule zu bringen. Ihr könnt euch vorstellen, wie das geendet hat. Ich halte mich generell davon fern, trinke kaum bis gar kein Alkohol und habe in meinem fast 30-jährigen Leben noch nie eine Zigarette angefasst. Dieses Buch war für mich mithin eine komplett neue Erfahrung; eine Geschichte, wie ich sie noch nie gelesen habe und wahrscheinlich auch nie gelesen hätte, wäre es nicht überraschenderweise in meinem Briefkasten gelandet. Jetzt aber zu der wichtigsten Frage: konnte mich das Buch überzeugen?

Der Einstieg in die Geschichte fiel mir irgendwie schwer, im positiven Sinne. Es hatte diese bedrückende Wirkung auf mich. Schnell wurde mir klar, dass die Begriffe scharfsinnig, scharfzüngig und auch schonungslos ziemlich genau den Nagel auf den Kopf treffen, zumindest was Lexi angeht. Dieses Buch hat ein richtig merkwürdiges Gefühl in mir ausgelöst; irgendwie ein beengendes Gefühl in meiner Brust, weshalb ich das Buch tatsächlich auch erst einmal wieder zur Seite gelegt habe. Ich war nicht in der Stimmung und wollte es nicht riskieren, es vielleicht aus diesem Grund nicht zu mögen.

Nach ein paar Tagen Pause habe ich dann wieder zu dem Buch gegriffen und dann ging es los; dann war ich plötzlich drin in der Geschichte.

Das Buch beginnt schon recht klischeehaft, muss ich gestehen. Lexi, eine keine verwöhnte Göre aus reichem Hause, ein richtiges It-Girl, dessen Leben aus nichts weiter außer Shoppen, Partys, Alkohol, Geld und Drogen besteht. All das erinnerte mich sehr stark an Gossip Girl. Leider trifft man während der Geschichte immer mal wieder auf eben diese Klischees. Neben Drogensucht, werden in der Enzugsklinik, in die Lexi zu Beginn unfreiwillig eingeliefert wird, auch andere Süchte behandelt wie zum Beispiel Esssucht, Magersucht, Sexsucht, Zwangsstörungen, etc. pp. Von A bis Z ist eigentlich alles dabei. Im Grunde klärt das Buch somit sehr vielfältig über die verschiedenen Süchte auf; auch darüber, dass man von allem süchtig werden kann, von Drogen, Alkohol, aber auch von Sex, Glücksspielen, etc. pp.

Dennoch erschien mir die Behandlung dieser Süchte und Lexis gesamter Aufenthalt in der Enzugsklink irgendwie zu harmlos? Ich bin mir unsicher, ob ich das überhaupt beurteilen kann, da ich – wie bereits oben erwähnt – bisher keine ähnlichen Bücher gelesen habe und auch im wahren Leben noch keinerlei Berührung mit Drogen bzw. mit Menschen, die süchtig waren/sind (wovon auch immer) hatte. Ich kann mir aber irgendwie beim besten Willen nicht vorstellen, dass – gerade junge Erwachsene – so bereitwillig einem kompletten Entzug zustimmen. Natürlich gibt es Zwischenfälle und ich möchte damit auch gar nicht behaupten, dass Jugendliche nicht dazu in der Lage sind, zu urteilen, ob sie sich damit schaden oder nicht. Doch meist ist es ja genau das, was Drogen einem vorspielen oder nicht? Nämlich, dass alles in Ordnung ist; das alles super läuft. Meistens bedarf es ja doch eines gravierenden Vorfalls, bis sich die Menschen bewusst werden, was da gerade mit ihnen passiert.

In der Klinik war es mir teilweise zu Friede-Freude-Eierkuchen. Die ersten Tage des kalten Entzugs sind großartig dargestellt und hier trifft es schonungslos eigentlich ziemlich perfekt. Besonders der ehrliche und direkte Schreibstil hat gerade diese ersten Tage unglaublich realistisch dargestellt. Ich musste teilweise wirklich pausieren zwischen den Seiten, weil es mich wirklich mitgenommen hat. Aber danach … sobald dieser kalte Entzug vorbei ist, scheint es so, als seien all diese Jugendlichen “geheilt”. Ist das wirklich so? Bei manchen bestimmt, doch bei den meisten Menschen könnte ich mir vorstellen, dass es eben nicht so ist, sondern, dass sie auch selbst nach dem ersten Entzug noch große Schwierigkeiten haben mit ihrer Sucht zu leben und damit richtig umzugehen. Bei Lexi und all den anderen “Insassen”, wie sie sie immer nannte, sieht einfach alles so leicht aus. Als wäre das Schlimmste nach dem ersten Entzug geschafft, aber ist es nicht eigentlich umgekehrt? Ist nicht das Schlimmste, den Rest seines Lebens mit einer solchen Sucht zu leben und gegen einen möglichen Rückfall zu kämpfen?

Irgendwie hat sich diese schonungslose Geschichte vom Anfang in eine eher harmlose Romanze entwickelt, was mir ebenfalls einfach viel viel zu schnell ging. Es war fast so, als gäbe es nur zwei Lager, die Süchtigen und dann die Nichtsüchtigen, kein dazwischen, nur schwarz und weiß. Dabei gibt es doch dieses dazwischen oder? Erst als Lexi entlassen und rückfällig wurde, war diese schonungslose Realität wieder da und auch wenn ich mich selbst dabei erwischt habe, ihr vorzuwerfen, wie sie, nach all dem was sie durchleben musste während des Entzugs, so dumm sein konnte, das Zeug noch mal zu nehmen und rückfällig zu werden.

Lexi als Charakter allerdings fand ich großartig. Es hat unglaublich viel Spaß gemacht, Zeuge ihrer Entwicklung zu sein. Auf sie trifft “schonungslos” wirklich sehr gut, denn das ist sie. Außerdem liebe ich sie dafür, dass sie ihren Gegenüber kaum bis gar keine Vorurteile hegt und wenn doch, merkt sie es selbst. So verurteilt sie ein Mädchen zum Beispiel dafür, dass sie zu dick ist, ist sich aber kurz darauf bewusst, wie falsch das doch war. Lexi ist ein richtig toller Charakter, den ich gleich ins Herz geschlossen habe. Besonders gut gefallen hat mir ihre Rückkehr ins Leben; ihren alltäglichen Kampf damit ihrer Sucht zu widerstehen.

Auch wenn ich mir das Ganze doch noch etwas schonungsloser gewünscht hätte mit etwas mehr Realität, konnte mich das Buch absolut fesseln. Es hat mich teilweise geschockt, es hat mich wütend gemacht, hat mich Dinge hinterfragen lassen und mir in einigen Punkten definitiv die Augen geöffnet.

Und auch wenn mich das Buch nicht komplett überzeugen konnte, so empfinde ich die Botschaft, die es vermittelt unglaublich wichtig. Es zeigt sehr deutlich, dass das Leben kein Ponyhof ist, dass es eben auch manchmal einfach nur schlichtweg scheiße ist; das Menschen Probleme haben, von Trauer und/oder Zweifeln zerfressen und einfach keinen anderen Ausweg mehr sehen. Oder aber sie kommen einfach nur durch ihre unbändige Neugierde auf den falschen Weg. Das Buch zeigt deutlich, dass es mehr als nur eine Sucht gibt und das jeder einmal auf die schiefe Bahn geraten kann. Aber ebenso zeigt das Buch, dass es doch einen Ausweg gibt, wenn man gewillt ist, dafür zu kämpfen und hart dafür zu arbeiten. Es schenkt Hoffnung.


Juno Dawson hat mit Clean ein wirklich wichtiges Buch geschrieben, das auf die Süchte der heutigen Zeit aufmerksam macht. Das Buch regt zum Nachdenken an und fesselt. Insbesondere der schonungslos ehrliche und direkte Schreibstil lässt einen förmlich durch die Seiten fliegen. Und auch wenn es mir teilweise zu viel Einhörner und Zuckerwatte, zu viele rosa Wolken, war, bin ich dennoch der Meinung, dass dies ein Buch ist, dass man insbesondere Jugendlichen empfehlen sollte.

Mehr Rezensionen findet ihr auf www.ivybooknerd.com
Profile Image for Nikki.
944 reviews49 followers
March 25, 2018
I received this book from the publishers via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, to start, a couple of warnings. This is a book about a stint in rehab, so it does come with a MASSIVE number of triggers, especially around drugs, booze and food but there’s too many to list them all. So if you read it, just be aware of that. And it’s also written from the view of an entitled 17 year old being forced into something, and comes with the language and behaviours that brings. Again it actually felt real, and I was pleased to see a book that doesn’t pretend that teenagers don’t swear. Having said that, I like a good swear, and even I was a bit shocked to see the C word twice early on. So not a book for the younger side of YA, for sure!

Right onto the review!

I am so conflicted about this book. It’s VERY well done, it’s hard not to feel empathy for the characters in some respects. And it feels very honest. But I have no reference for an entitled, rich, spoiled, drug using 17 year old. Lexi is not always a likeable character. I didn’t dislike her, I just couldn’t connect with her at all, I come from a very different viewpoint. That said, she’s exceptionally well written and complex, and I love her with the horses, and the moments with the others in rehab. Her coming round to self honesty is a slow and brilliant journey. But she’s not always a nice or good person.

The story itself is well done - you see many types of addiction. I particularly liked the contrast of Kendall and Ruby.

The other thing that struck me about the book is that I do not follow celebrity culture at all. And so much of it felt like name dropping - people, brands, places, it felt like the reader was supposed to care and I just didn’t.

Having said that, it was very British in places, which I definitely loved! Some of the locations and discussions on London nightlife made me laugh, and Lexi’s early comment about a cup of tea was brilliant.

It really is a well written book, and a good message, I’m just not sure the writing style is for me and struggled to connect with the premise. I did connect with the emotion inherent to that premise though, and that’s why I give this 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Claire (Book Blog Bird).
1,053 reviews38 followers
January 22, 2018
Wow. I really enjoyed this book. It was a dark, gritty read that didn't shy away from shining a light on all manner of issues: drug abuse, sexual abuse, mental health, gender identity, toxic relationships

Lexi Volkov is uber-rich and utterly spoilt by her billionaire parents, so when she gets thrown into an exclusive rehab facility for heroin addiction she has literally hit rock bottom and surely from there the only way is up?

I didn't think I'd like Lexi to begin with, but she grew on me quite quickly and you quickly see that the only reason she behaves like such a nightmare is because of her addictions and the toxic relationships she clings onto. By about halfway through the book I really liked her and was totally rooting for her and believe it or not the author actually managed to make me feel sorry for the poor little rich girl.

I've never had to come off heroin myself, and I'm glad because it sounds absolutely horrific. Can't speak for the veracity of what Lexi goes through, but it sounded realistic enough and certainly kept me reading. Also, I don't follow the tabloids or reality TV or whatever, but even I could see that there were plenty of parallels to people in the public eye who suddenly check themselves into a clinic for 'exhaustion'.

the story isn't just about Lexi coming off heroin, but also the bit after, where she has to come to terms with her addiction and make the changes in her life that will let her stay clean. That, for me, was the really interesting bit.

In fact, this was a five star read until the last 5% or so, where I think the author just tried to cram too much resolution into too few pages. It felt muddled and disjointed from the rest of the book and it would have worked better if we were left guessing about what happened to Lexi after her second bout of treatment.

I've not read anything of Juno Dawson's before, so this was a really good intro into this author's writing. Recommended.
Profile Image for Marlene Sofia.
71 reviews25 followers
October 29, 2021
Uma montanha russa de emoções no mundo dos vícios! Uma leitura muito agradável...
Profile Image for Alyce Hunt.
1,246 reviews21 followers
April 18, 2018
Fuck me sideways, this book is ASTOUNDING. Extremely gushy review coming soon...

EDIT 18/04/2018:

'I sigh. it's all so improbable. How can I be 'an addict'? I'm seventeen years old. I always sort of aspired to a coke problem as I turned thirty, but never this.'

Lexi Volkov is in rehab, and she's not fucking happy about it. Just because she turned a little bit blue after taking some heroin doesn't mean she needs help, and she hates Nikolai for sticking his big fat oar in. She's not an addict. Everyone uses drugs. Even Nikolai's not opposed to dabbling with a bit of cocaine.

But Nikolai is worried, and Lexi can't talk her way out of the Clarity Centre. She's going to be there for almost three months, so it's time to suck it up and start working her way through the ten-step program that they offer.

Step one? Admitting she has a problem.

Clean is bloody brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that I'm going to use the ten-step program as inspiration and list ten reasons that I think this is the greatest novel Juno Dawson has written so far:

1) It's a masterclass in character development. When we meet Lexi she's an absolute bitch. She's aggressive, verbally attacking anyone that crosses her path, dropping more c-bombs than you can count. However, by the end of the novel she's matured exponentially, but the shift is completely natural and believable.

2) Every character is three-dimensional. There's a fairly large cast of patients in the rehabilitation centre, and they're all written with care. There's Ruby, the binge-eater and Kendall, a transgender anorexic. Guy, who suffers from OCD, and Brady, the mysterious Hollywood hunk who immediately catches Lexi's eye. None of them are unnecessary, and all of them will reassure and inspire readers in different ways.

3) That does mean that it's far too easy to get attached and root for the characters to get better. You'll find yourself getting overly invested in their lives within a couple of pages of meeting them, and that makes reading Clean an emotional rollercoaster. Everyone has ups and downs, and I found myself sobbing at multiple points.

4) However, the story ends on a hopeful note. I'm not going to give any spoilers as to where the characters end up, but I finished reading Clean with a smile on my face. It's worth the emotional upheaval that you experience throughout.

5) Addiction isn't romanticised. Whereas some YA novels make addiction look glamorous - part of the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, something to aspire towards - Dawson rejects that dangerous portrayal. One of the greatest quotes in Clean has to be 'Why can't we be honest and say 'drugs are boss until you almost snuff it, your brother abducts you and you start shitting the bed'?'. There's nothing desirable about shitting the bed.

6) On that note, Lexi's fucking hilarious. I cackled with laughter more than I thought possible while reading a book on such a serious topic. 'Little birds twitter just outside the window and I wish they'd shut up. What have they got to be so cheerful about? Beaky little twats.'

7) For a book called Clean, the language is remarkably profane. I swear like a sailor, so sometimes I get annoyed with the lack of bad language in YA: it just doesn't seem realistic or genuine when I think back to how my friends and I talked to each other during our teens. It's a relief to meet a character who swears more than I do. If you're opposed to reading bad language, this is definitely a book that you should avoid.

8) Rehab isn't treated as a miracle cure. Lexi doesn't come out of Clarity with an unshakeable will, never to be tempted again, because that's not how addiction works. In fact, there's a character called Sasha who's a regular at Clarity. There's no magical fix that makes everything better, recovery is treated as an ongoing process. It's obvious that...

9) ...Dawson has researched the topic carefullyClean treats each of the conditions featured with sensitivity, and nothing is included for shock value. When attempting to write a book about something so serious it's important to get it right, and it's immediately apparent that Dawson has talked to people who really know their stuff.

10) At the end of the novel there's a support page, recommending helplines and websites that you can use if you relate to any of the problems featured in Clean. It's vital to feature these kind of resources when writing a book which includes such sensitive issues, so I was very glad to see that included.

Honestly, I could go on. There are SO MANY brilliant things about Clean. It's one of the best YA contemporaries I've ever read, and unquestionably one of the most unique: I can't think of another YA novel set on a rehabilitation island!

This review was originally posted on The Bumbling Blogger.
Profile Image for Aileen Mckenzie.
185 reviews7 followers
April 6, 2018
So this time last week I had the nastiest bug in a long time. I couldn’t stop being sick, I had an intense fever, and was having aches and pains all over my body. Unable to get out my bed and too uncomfortable to sleep reading a book seemed like the most sensible way to pass the time. My head was so muddled I couldn’t concentrate on the over complicated plots of my usual crime genre, so instead, I picked up Clean, a YA novel by Juno Dawson. I have read a YA novel before, but this will be my first time reviewing one. Pitched as “Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted”, Clean is so fashionably on point it hurts. I initially thought of it more of a cross between Clueless and Rachel’s Holiday, but maybe I’m showing my age there.

“It’s a dirty business getting clean”

Lexi Volkov, the beautiful, blonde 17-year-old heiress to a hotel empire. Known as a “socialite” she’s the Russian-English version of Paris Hilton. She’s rich, spoiled and used to getting her own way. She is also a heroin addict. After a night of heavy partying and drug use leads to Lexi being found unconscious and covered in vomit, her big brother stages an intervention and whisks her away whilst she’s still out of it, to Clarity, a fancy and very expensive rehab facility with a whole island of its own. Here, Lexi begins her 72 day, detox and step programme, along with a group of other young adults, with similar mental health problems. Lexi doesn’t go down without a fight, to say she goes kicking and screaming is an understatement. Already beginning to rattle as the effects of her last hit are long gone, Lexi descends into the hell of withdrawal and starts her recovery process.

Clean is a totally mixed bag. Narrated in first person from Lexi’s point of view, the book is broken down into twelve chapters, each headed with one of the twelve steps. In parts, the story was fresh and fluffy with its modern references and teenage melodrama, but other parts were rather gritty and raw. I was curious to see how a YA novel would handle the drug use, whether the author would shy away but in fact quite the opposite was true.

“Direct into the bloodstream. Now, that is pretty shameful actually. Worst part is, I knew that was proper junkie behaviour and I did it anyway.”

For me personally, the best part of the book was early on when Lexi was going through her withdrawal. It was superbly written, the author taking time to go into every excruciating detail. Partly because I was feeling so ill myself when I read this book, and partly because of the descriptive prose I felt every shake, every chill, every stabbing pain through my body. I could smell the sweat and sickness. My temperature seemed to soar when Lexi’s did till my skin felt like it was on fire. However through it all, I knew that what I felt wasn’t even a touch of how someone going through detoxification in real life must feel.

“Why can’t we just be honest and say ‘drugs are boss until you almost snuff it, your brother abducts you and you start shitting the bed?”

When Lexi is over the worst of her withdrawal she is allowed out of her room and gets to meet the rest of the residents. Colourful yet troubled, the reader gets to meet the myriad of multi-layered characters that bring another dimension to the story and prove pivotal in Lexi’s recovery. Covering multiple themes, through this group setting, the author touches on sensitive subjects like anorexia, OCD, obesity and gender identity disorder. Privilege is also an important part of this novel as most of the characters in the facility are from extremely wealthy families, and the novel goes to show that privilege isn’t without its problems, and this is especially true for Lexi.

The only aspect of the novel I struggled with was Lexi’s development of co-dependant relationships. I’m not an expert in addiction however I am aware of how dangerous and destructive these are in the precarious road to recovery, and I would have liked to have seen the author tackle that head on.

There are plenty of light moments to balance out all the dark and I loved the glamour and celebrity circles that Lexi moved in. It felt almost voyeuristic being in a nightclub taking shots alongside models and reality tv stars.

Clean is a journey not just about getting of drugs, but a journey of Lexi finding out who she really is underneath her party girl persona. A teenage, life affirming tale of self discovery. Thanks to the author Juno Dawson and publisher Quercus who provided me with a free review copy.
Profile Image for Kirsty .
3,223 reviews329 followers
January 4, 2018
Clean is a brilliant YA read and a perfect example of how YA fiction can be used to tackle more mature ideas in a thoughtful way to make a real impact on its reader.

Clean does not hold back. It tackles a broad range of issues including drug addiction, gender identity, eating disorders, mental health and toxic relationships. For me this was the real strength of the novel showing the reader an incredibly realistic account of how deeply such issues can affect those dealing with them.

Clean focuses primarily on the story of Lexi. Lexi is an incredibly interesting character. She's super rich and completely spoilt and makes the most benefits her privileged lifestyle brings her. Initially she's one of those characters which you might think you are going to hate meeting her for the first time as she's being carted off to rehab for her drug addiction. However over the course of the book I found myself really getting behind her as I started to understand the real pain she was going through and struggles she had to overcome particularly in regards to the toxic relationships she had been in.

One thing this book does particularly well is trans representation. There is a trans character called Kendall. Kendall is a brilliant character in herself. I always found her contributions to scenes to be sharp and witty. The portrayal of her struggles with her eating disorder are put across in a thoughtful way. However why I particular loved Kendall is just because she's there. She's there and the fact she is there isn't a big deal. She interacts with Lexi in such a normal way and Lexi in return just accepts her for who she is. There's also an almost throw away comment of a line which mentions a young trans male whom Lexi had previously interacted with at school. I've found many novels with trans characters where the story is so focused on their coming out and / or transition. While of course these novels are important, we need more representation like those in Clean showing normal young trans men and women just going about their lives. This is especially important in a time when the trans community are represented so unfairly and unkindly by certain media outlets and the bigots who buy their rubbish papers or watch their awful TV programmes and think they have the right to spew venom under the guise of free speech. Hopefully with more portrayals like those in Clean in books, films and TV programmes things will start to change even if that change doesn't come about as quickly as we'd like.

In short I loved Clean. It's addictive reading which had me hooked from the outset. Juno Dawson's best work to date.
Profile Image for Emily Louise Smith.
151 reviews41 followers
May 24, 2019
Dubbed as “Gossip Girl meets Girl Interrupted”, Clean is a biting and hard-hitting YA novel centring around Lexi, a spoiled hotel heiress with a serious drug problem, who is checked into a luxury island rehab facility by her brother after she overdoses on heroin.

The novel addresses, albeit some more than others, addiction, toxic relationships, mental health, eating disorders and transgender issues. The portrayal of addiction was gritty, real and didn’t shy away from some of the more harsh details involved in detoxing. I love how well the young adult genre is tackling issues recently, arguably even better than some adult fiction.

Lexi is an excellent protagonist, Juno has done something truly magical with her writing to make you want to care and root for the spoilt rich girl you meet at the start of the novel. On the surface Lexi seemed like she was going to be the most stereotypical character you could meet, however as the story develops so does her personality and back story, eventually you start to understand how she has ended up in this situation in the first place.

Although I enjoyed the side characters in the novel and thought Juno had included a greatly diverse cast of characters, I did find that they got left behind a bit in comparison to Lexi. There were a few moments that felt like were setting up a bigger arc for certain characters yet they just fizzled out. Kendall and Sasha were my two favourites, and the two that I was most disappointed that we didn’t get much resolution from. The novel had great representation throughout including own voices rep through Kendall, a trans woman.

With out spoiling or giving too much away I personally thought the ending was a little too neat and slightly unrealistic, especially compared with rawness of the rest of the novel, and let down how great the rest of the story was. It seemed totally out of place and although I do understand where the reasoning could have came from to end it that way, it just didn’t work for me.

That being said I did highly enjoy this book and would defiantly recommend to anyone looking for a fast paced novel that really packs a punch.

*Free copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
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