For those who can’t get enough of Celebrity Rehab, Amy Reed’s Clean offers a voyeuristic look into the lives of five teens forced to face their addiction in rehab. Kelly, Christopher, Eva, Olivia, and Jason all come from very different walks of life, but whether they want to believe it or not they all have something in common. In a series of personal narrative essays and script-like group therapy sessions, readers discover how kids from all walks of life came together to deal with their dangerous substance use problems.
By offering the stories of five different teens, Reed shows that addiction is not the product of any single environment. The kid from the supportive, loving family can just as easily end up with a drug or alcohol problem as the kid who raises him or herself in an abusive environment. However, in accomplishing this, the book bounces back and forth from one narrator to the next, making it more difficult to develop an emotional attachment to any one character. In the beginning, especially, it takes time to even establish who is who, as the story moves so rapidly between characters. By the end of the book I had a solid grasp of each character’s profile, but still didn’t care much about any of them. While I felt like I understood the purpose of creating so many perspectives, I would have preferred sticking to one or two main characters and perhaps learning about the others in rehab from their perspectives.
Though the style of the book did not always work for me, I was intrigued by the rawness of the characters’ experience. The chapters portraying how the teens’ families were dealing with their issues were particularly captivating. Readers who enjoy books about alcoholism, drug use and abuse, rehab and therapy, and family drama (who are willing to embrace the multiple perspectives) will likely find something to grab onto in Reed’s newest book.