Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: YoungDudes Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 306 Pages
At a Glance: I cannot say enough about this book. Clean should and must be in every high school library.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: High school senior Lanny Keating has it all. A three-sport athlete at Lauserville High School looking at a college football scholarship, with a supportive family, stellar grades, boy band good looks… until the fateful day when it all falls apart.
Seventeen-year-old Trevor Ladd has always been a publicly declared zero and the high school badboy. Abandoned by his mother and sexually abused by his legal guardian, Trevor sets his sights on mere survival.
Lanny seeks out Trevor’s companionship to avoid his shattered home life. Unwilling to share their personal experiences of pain, the boys explore ways to escape, leading them into sexual experimentation, and the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol. Their mutual suffering creates a lasting bond of friendship and love.
When the time finally comes to get clean and sober, or flunk out of high school, only one of the boys will graduate, while the other spirals downward into addiction.
Will Lanny and Trevor find the strength to battle their demons of mind-altering substances as well as emotional vulnerability?
Clean takes the reader on a gritty trip into the real and raw world of teenage substance abuse.
Review: The blurb of this stunning novel by Mia Kerick really gives you a rather complete synopsis of a story that will no doubt live with you long after reading the last page. Clean lays out teenage addiction and its devastating journey and aftermath with such precision and gritty reflection that one can not be affected by its clarity and truth.
Two boys meet in their senior year. Both have experienced events in their young lives that have left them clinging to life by mere threads. Turning to alcohol is not the answer, but it provides the numbness both need to face another day in a life they would both choose to leave if they only had the strength to do so. In the first half of this amazing novel, we watch the downward spiral that has become Lanny’s and Trevor’s lives. Trevor’s is rocked by abuse so raw and heinous that I would be remiss to not put a trigger warning in this review to alert past abuse victims that there are definitely passages in this novel that are painful to read. However, having said that, I would also tell you that not once is their any gratuitous rape or abuse scenes—rather, every violation mentioned is done with the utmost care and needed to fully expose the horror that Trevor endures daily.
Lanny’s story is vastly different, and yet he, too, relives a tragic moment in his family’s life that plays on a continuous condemning loop in his mind. While his home is safe in many ways, it is a former shadow of the once happy place he had grown up in. With parents who have simply checked out of his life and cannot remotely interact with each other or their son, the haven that once was their home has become a desert devoid of love and mutual care. Lanny blames himself for what has happened to them all, and since his parents are consumed with the aftermath, there is no one to tell him differently. So, he drinks, chasing that elusive numbing high that allows him to forget that, in his mind, he is nothing but a loser who has nothing to give anyone—not even to Trevor. Trevor, who he is slowly falling in love with—or, maybe it’s the booze he loves. That line is far too blurred and steeped in such a deep alcoholic haze that it’s too difficult to see what is real anymore.
The latter half of Clean follows both boys as they make the choice to either kick their addiction or allow it to consume them completely. I will tell you only this: there is a hard fought happy-ever-after at the end of this story. It claws its way to the surface slowly and realistically, and it leaves behind such hope—such relief that somehow these two boys actually made it beyond the hell they were living. Easy is not a term I can associate with this novel—there is no quick fix for Lanny or Trevor–but there is a cleansing and rebirth that will always be tinged by a desire to drown in the very alcohol addiction they narrowly escaped. Though author Mia Kerick may give us our desired happy ever after, it is fraught with warning—recovery takes work—and vigilance. Teenagers are so easily dismissed and overlooked with the best of intentions, and she reminds us that if they are to survive, we must walk with them and rebuild the trust we have shattered with our benign neglect.
I cannot say enough about this book. Clean should and must be in every high school library. This is a story that resonates beyond the written page and reminds us how important it is to really take the time to invest in the young men and women who walk the hallways of our high schools, and who live in our neighborhoods. Beyond that, it warns us that addiction is such an easy road to travel, and that many do not make it back from that dark place where substance becomes our best friend and drowns us steadily in it’s hazy wake. Most importantly, Clean affords us the opportunity to cling to the hope of redemption and recovery. Mia Kerick does not leave her characters alone and lost; rather, she shines a light into their darkest places and shows them there is more life to live, if only they will take a step forward and embrace the beauty buried deep inside them.
I highly recommend Clean to you. This is a novel you will not want to miss.
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