Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Clean by Juno Dawson
Published by Quercus Children’s Books
Released 5th April 2018
400 Pages
Kindle Edition

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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.


I am always looking for books that push me out of my comfort zone and relate to gritty real life issues – so, when I found out about Clean I know it was one that I HAD to read. I’ve been a great admirer of Juno Dawson as both a writer and a person so I couldn’t wait to see how she tackled the many issues raised in her latest novel.

When rich socialite Lexi Volkov overdoses she is forced into an exclusive rehab facility by her older brother who is worried about Lexi’s excessive partying. Once in rehab, the only thing for Lexi to do is tackle her demons and admit she has a problem, this includes therapy with fellow inmates, including the alluring Brady. As Lexi starts to face up to her past, she starts to realise that love could be the most powerful drug of all.

First of all there are a lot of trigger warnings you need to be aware of when reading Clean, especially with regards to drugs, alcohol, food and sex so just keep that in mind if you are going to pick this up. As someone who has never had problems with any of these issues it was hard at first to find something to relate to, when I usually read I find myself relating to at least one of the issues raised but with Clean it was a bit different. However, this didn’t stop me becoming totally engrossed in the story. It was gritty, it was hardcore and it certainly pushed boundaries at times but I believe that’s how the story was intended to be told. You needed to be put smack bang into the situation to realise what it was like. 

Some could say that Clean was difficult to read at times and I will agree and say that it was at some points. The scenes of drug use were what made me feel uncomfortable but I knew they were in there to add to the realism that was trying to be brought across. Speaking of realism the way it portrays each step of recovery was outstanding and I also really liked how the fear of being discharged and relapsing was dealt with. You don’t usually get to hear that side of the story so it was good to see how our characters dealt with life on the outside. 

Getting to see the many different types of addiction was fascinating. The contrast between Kendall (kudos to having a Trans character by the way!) and Ruby was probably my favourite contrast. It was also good having a character with a sex addiction (this isn’t spoken about much) and gave me an insight into someone not being able to control their urges. Clean, I felt gave me a lot of information about a world that I haven’t seen and I admire that.

Lexi, was a character that at the start I couldn’t deal with – a spoiled rich kid wouldn’t be the type of person I make friends with. Saying that, as I got further down the line and found out more about her backstory I found myself warming to her. Her character was so well written and I loved her complexity. Her moments with the others in rehab were perfect and seeing her tackle her issues to become a better person was in a way, heartwarming. The only gripe I have is that her romance with a certain inmate wasn’t really needed? I didn’t feel like it added much to the plot as a whole.

Clean is a rough, gritty, complex read that doesn’t sweep over the topic of addiction. It really is a though provoking read that I will definitely be coming back to again. If you want difficult realism, this is your book.

Author Bio

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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