Today is the official release day for CLEAN!
First, I’d like to give a huge THANK YOU to all the incredible bloggers who have already given such amazing feedback on advance copies. YA authors would be nowhere without you.
Now, a little background into why I wrote it.
CLEAN was a story that had been writing itself in my head for a long time, probably since I was a teenager. I had always wanted to tell a story about kids in rehab. My favorite books as a teenager were Girl, Interrupted and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and I continue to be fascinated by the concept of institutionalization, not only the practical details and implications of it, but also the metaphor inherent in being locked up, especially when you’re dealing with an age group that is so driven by the desire for freedom and independence.
Like my first book BEAUTIFUL, CLEAN deals very frankly with drug and alcohol abuse. I received some criticism for this in BEAUTIFUL, and I understand that it’s difficult subject matter for a lot of people. It should be. I’d be worried if readers weren’t troubled by it. In both books, my primary goal has been to be honest, to not sugarcoat or hide anything, to tell the stories I know to be true, to tell the kinds of stories I wish I could have read as a teenager. When I was growing up, there was very little honest discussion about the kinds of things that were on my friends’ and my mind. There was the blanket command “Just Say No,” but that wasn’t enough for me, and I don’t think it’s enough for many kids. What I needed, what I’m trying to write, was the truth. I think teenagers can handle a lot more than we give them credit for.
In CLEAN, I’ve tried to explore the complexities of drug use and abuse through the experiences of five characters who, despite being very different, I think carry pieces of all of us. It was important to me to show them as full, nuanced people, with hopes and loves and fears like everyone else—and also the disease of addiction. So often, we’re given the message that Drugs Are Bad, and by extension, people who use drugs are bad. Well, these kids aren’t bad. They’re kids, and they’re in a lot of pain. They’ve made some bad decisions and they’ve hurt people, sometimes very seriously, but they started out as we all do—with the potential to become anything. My goal is not to excuse their behavior, but to offer the reader some understanding of how people can go down such different paths. Hopefully I can offer some insight into how to avoid making some of their same mistakes.
I have seen the lives of people I love fall apart because of this disease, but I have also seen tremendous transformations, which can only be described as miracles. I have seen people who had fallen to what many of us would consider the lowest of the low, so close to death by either overdose or violence or suicide, but some glimmer of hope remained despite it all, some little voice that said “Live,” and those people fought their way back to the world of the living and now lead completely different lives. This is what I hope for the characters in CLEAN, and for readers who may be fighting their own similar demons. Despite so many things inside them being broken, despite the pain and struggle that may haunt them for the rest of their lives, I believe they–I believe we–can change. I believe that deep down we are capable of things we haven’t even dreamt of yet.
Love and hope,
The Bay Area Brit says
Really looking forward to reading Clean, Amy. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations!
Congrats on your book release!
kimmiepoppinsimberly Sabatini says
I can’t wait to read CLEAN…I loved BEAUTIFUL. Thanks for being one of those amazing, honest writers.
Safari Poet says
I haven’t read Beautiful or Clean yet, but with the kind of subject you write about, you have to be frank. It’s reality, which isn’t always pretty. The people who criticize you probably just don’t want to know things like what your characters go through happen and prefer to be ignorant.
Congratulations and I look forward to reading both of your books.
I am just starting your new book “Clean”. As someone who’s seen firsthand what drugs can do to the people you love and also to your own self and who’s experienced being hospitalized for lengthy periods in rehab and mental hospitals this book really does hit home to a reader who’s been through a lot of that. Thank you for writing and giving other people a window into what it’s like to be a recovering addict or mentally ill person locked up. We aren’t all lunatic, etc, that you need to cross the street to get away from or who’ll steal your best china for a fix. Maybe BEFORE rehab… Anyway, I really wish I’d had a book like this to read when I was going through my own drug-related rough patches as a teenager. Instead I had “Go Ask Alice” and another book that was written like diary with pictures but that I cannot recall the name off the top of my head.
I just finished reading your book “Beautiful”.. and i just HAD to jump on here and see what other people thought about it. This is the best book i have ever read. From the first sentence i could not put it down. I love how honest and out there you were in the book and how you didnt sugar coat any part of it. i’m not a big reader usually but this book I think is definitely going to change that. It really made me appreciate my family and teenage years a hell of alot more. I am really looking forward to getting my hands on your next book “CLEAN”. Fantastic work!
I just read the book clean and I thought it was amazing! I group up with a family full of alcoholics and drug addicts. My mom has been in and out of rehab and my dad has been in and out of jail. Your book was so true. I know my parents aren’t bad people they just have a disease. It took me a long time to realize that. If your book would have been around years ago I think it would have helped me realize that sooner. I hope you continue to write amazing books that really relate to people.