Clean reviewed by Tara

17 year old Lexi Volkov, heiress to the V Hotel Group fortune, has the world at her feet. She has unlimited resources available to fund her lifestyle and clean up after her. She recently left school after a tragic event, and now her life revolves around shopping, drinking, partying and seeing Kurt. She and her friends use a range of drugs, but she feels that she is completely in control. After a big night out Lexi wakes face down on the back seat of a car, in a vomit stained designer dress without her shoes. She is dragged kicking and screaming into a locked room at the Clarity Centre, a rehabilitation facility for young people with addictions. Her brother has initiated an intervention, booking her into a seventy day program on the island.

Despite her unwillingness to admit she has a problem, Lexi decides to play along and bide her time to escape. As she gets to know the other residents, and learn about their struggles with addictions she begins to recognise common ground. Regardless of whether the addiction is to drugs, over-eating, avoidance of food, or compulsive behaviours they all share the same foundation. The story follows Lexi through her rehabilitation and her attempts to return to the world outside the centre.

This is not a book I would have selected for myself, but I am grateful for the opportunity to have read it for the Big Book Club. I enjoyed it and appreciated the insights into drug use and addiction. Through reading we learn about different worlds to the one we inhabit, and gain insight and empathy through this. Dawson describes the colourful and chaotic world of Lexi and some of the harsh realities of addiction and detox. The story was fast paced and entertaining. I enjoyed the format, with ‘chapter’ divisions around the steps of recovery, and multiple short segments within each chapter. The short segments were formatted to begin at the top of the page without indentation, which gave the sense of stepping into the middle of the action. It also replicated the mindset of a lack of focus and short attention span. This sense of flitting from thought to thought complemented the story.

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