Professional Reader

book review clean by Juno Dawson

Gossip Girl, Meets Girl Interrupted

‘This brilliantly crafted novel portrays the vast spectrum of love and grief with heart-wrenching beauty and candour. A very special book’ – John Green, author of The Fault In Our Stars

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 …

Duffys Book Review of Clean by Juno Dawson

Ok, lets firstly say that YA is not usually my jam, but it wasn’t until I started researching the author after reading Clean that I realised this book is aimed at young adults. Reading The Guardian interview with author Juno Dawson I learned, this book is aimed at young adults, not immature adults. It’s frightening when you think about what young people from late teens upwards are exposed to today. Porn, drugs, online trolling, extraordinary peer pressure, insecurities and grief. All things us old’s struggle with now, even with years of experience under our belts.

The main character, Lexi, is a young, beautiful, immensely wealthy socialite. So by rights, I should have spent the entire book hating this poor little rich girl who finds herself in a rehab facility which seems like a swanky London hotel.  I should also hate her privileged, spoiled friends who cruise through life with model good looks and endless launch parties, but I don’t. Dawson writes with such clarity these characters become real, with depths and flaws that we all have inside us without the side of fake cheese and saccharine lines. Don’t get me wrong, this is a YA fiction, so the odd line sneaks through, but Dawson recognises it, and pays out on it which keeps this novel on the mature end of YA.

We follow Lexi as she wakes in the back of a car. Disorientated, she begins to realise that this is an intervention and she is carted off to an exclusive rehab facility to face her demons. Here she goes through a painful detox and also begins to open up to some of the other residents who become allies and makes a connection with an unruly horse at the local stables. I loved the storyline of Lexi and her bond with horse  Storm which for me became a metaphor for her addiction and recovery journey.  It is here, at the Clarity facility, that Lexi realises she isn’t alone, and that everyone is f*cked up in their own way, slightly broken, but never a lost cause. Dawson explores the process of recovery, the pull of addiction and the strength found in friendships and love from one another.

Be warned, this book is about addiction, all kinds of addiction, so the triggers are plentiful and may be overwhelming for some. Clean demonstrates that addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter whether you are one of the richest teenagers in London, or born and bred on a Peckham council estate, you can still fall down the rabbit hole, still have to go through withdrawal, you’ll still be sick, you’ll still do things that will haunt you and you’ll still defecate in your own bed. Getting clean is not pretty.

The metallic rose gold cover is unique and the book itself will become one hot fashion accessory. A thoroughly enjoyable read with on-point social observations and a thoughtful approach to the struggles and addictions which haunt so many of us, whatever our age or social standing.

I read the TV rights to Clean have been snapped up and I look forward to watching the series when it hits the screens.

Clean is out now – grab your shiny new copy here for less than your weekly latte bill!

Published by Hachette RRP $16.99

4 out of 5 from me

About Juno Dawson

Juno Dawson – formerly known as James – grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of DOCTOR WHO. She later turned her talent to journalism, interviewing bands before writing for a Brighton newspaper. Until recently, Juno worked as a teacher, specialising in PSHE. She is most proud of her work surrounding anti-bullying and family diversity. In 2014 she became a School Role Model for the charity STONEWALL. In 2015, Juno announced her intention to undergo gender transition and live as a woman.

Author Juno Dawson
Author Juno DawsonClean by Juno Dawson