Book Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

This book comes with all of the trigger warnings. There are so many possible triggers that I can’t list them all here, but Clean deals with many kinds of addiction and rehab, and you should think carefully about reading it if you think the content is likely to be triggering. If you want to ask about a particular topic or trigger in relation to this book, then feel free to message me and I’d be happy to help.


“Face-down on leather. New car smell. Pine Fresh.

I can’t move.

I’m being kidnapped.

But I can’t move”

Clean starts right in the middle of all the action as Lexi Volkov finds herself coming around from her heavy night of drugs and finding herself being taken to rehab by her brother, Nikolai. It’s messy.

Lexi is a rich, spoiled socialite with a salty attitude and a drug addiction. She has so many toxic relationships it’s hard to keep track. Her boyfriend Kurt, is big in the drug scene and Lexi is as addicted to him as she is to drugs. She is sarcastic and has a really dark and twisty sense of humour that made me snort-laugh on many occasions. She’s a self-proclaimed “judgy bitch”. Lexi is instantly dislikeable, but I adored her from the start.

Some of Lexi’s experiences with drugs sound glamorous and at times, almost romantic. It’s easy to see why she enjoys that lifestyle, and why she doesn’t believe she has an addiction. Lexi doesn’t really see anything wrong with her behaviours. To her mind, she’s just having fun and doing what every other seventeen-year-old would be doing, right? Clarity is about to teach her some really harsh truths.

Clarity is an expensive and exclusive rehabilitation centre. This place has luxuries I can only dream of. As rehab goes, it’s pretty cosy. But Lexi still has to face up to herself and her addiction, and she has to get clean. Lexi doesn’t think she has a problem and initially she fights everyone and everything. Her main concerns are getting in touch with Kurt and making sure her dad doesn’t find out:

“Daddy would kill me. Or worse, cancel my credit cards”

Juno doesn’t shy away from showing the dirty and unpleasant side of addiction and recovery. It is not pretty, and it’s not easy. At times it makes for uncomfortable reading. The graphic descriptions of Lexi coming round, and of her initial detoxing are grim:

“I’m a gargoyle, knotted in salty bed sheets.

My kidneys have their own throbbing heartbeat.

There’s glass in my tubes, in my piss”

Juno has the most beautiful way with words.

Lexi starts to come around to the idea that she maybe, possibly does have a problem, and she actually finds herself wanting to do something about it. Therapy starts to peel away some of Lexi’s façade, and we start to see a softer and more vulnerable side to her. We see some of the things that led her to drugs, and also some of the things in her life she is hiding from.  We get an insight into her thoughts and how she sometimes acts on her addiction and impulses without being able to explain to herself why she does it. We also get to see why Lexi left her school, and what exactly happened with Antonella, a girl who takes up a lot of space in Lexi’s mind. If I hadn’t already fallen head over heels for Lexi, this might have swayed me more towards liking her.

Lexi is not alone in her recovery at Clarity. She is surrounded by other addicts. Not all of them are addicted to drugs. They all have their different addictions, lives, stories and histories which Juno explores beautifully. I had a soft spot for Brady. Who doesn’t? Reading Clean, it’s hard not to fall for him. I 100% wanted him and Lexi to have a beautiful romance, but Juno shows us how starting a relationship in rehab can be difficult and confusing. Their co-dependency could be a really bad thing, they could be switching one addiction for another, and they (and we) never really know if what they have is real, because Clarity is not real life, it’s rehab.

Just when I started to get comfortable with all the other characters and drawn into their individual stories, Juno brought in Sasha. Oh my gods. Sasha is something else. She shakes things up and puts everyone on edge. I started off really not liking her at all, but she grew on me, and I hope she’ll grow on you too. Sasha talks a lot, she’s vicious and deliberately provokes those around her. She has some serious problems though. Sasha is also a reminder that Clarity is for those who have money, those with addictions and parents or family who can afford to send them to a private rehab facility. Sasha is a charity case there. Her background is different to Lexi’s and she is not afraid to challenge priviledge when she sees it. One of my favourite scenes in the book is Lexi and Sasha in a boat together. I’m telling you nothing more.

Staying clean in rehab is relatively easy compared to being clean outside, surrounded by parties and other drug users. Can Lexi break away from her former lifestyle and stay clean? Well, you’re going to have to read it.

Clean is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It is the first of Juno’s books I have read, but it definitely won’t be the last.




6 thoughts on “Book Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

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  1. I love your reviews Charlotte, and this was no exception. I loved that Lexi was unlikeable, I think that’s what made her feel real to me. If you want to read anymore of Juno’s then I would suggest Say Her Name, I think you would love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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