Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: 'Clean' by Mia Kerick

If ever there were a time for the books of Mia Kerick it is now. The talented author has eleven novels to her name: she works for a publishing company committed to expanding the availability of books for teens featuring diverse characters, including those on the LGBTQ spectrum. Her YA novels deal with vital contemporary issues such as coming out, body image, bullying, gender identity, and spirituality. In CLEAN she steps fully stage front and center with the current attention being paid to substance abuse among young people. But Mia doesn't stop with a au courant idea: this book is so well written that it no doubt will be in line for awards this year. Her involvement in the Human Rights Campaign is a model for not only all parents but for all citizens who are concerned about the future of our youth.

Her outline for this excellent and involving story presents the plot well: ‘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?’

Mia’s way of writing about youth and the problems and choices that confront them is so natural, so conversational that it feels as though we are a part of a conversation t]rather than a reading experience, She understands her language and is able to create credible characters about whom we care very much. This is another fine book from a rising author. Grady Harp, December 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.