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?
Clean takes the reader on a gritty trip into the real and raw world of teenage substance abuse.
Kerick’s novel is a well-paced, well-written, and thoughtful approach to teen angst and the perils of drug and alcohol addiction. As the novel shifts focus between Lanny and Trevor’s voices, we begin to see the deeper layers hidden beneath hardened exteriors, each of them revealing their true thoughts and feelings, until gradually they soften and their lives and future change for the good. Kerick is non-judgemental and compassionate, dealing with mature themes for young adults, while providing very realistic characters in Lanny and Trevor. A compelling read, Clean adds Kerick to the likes of writers who challenge us to find the hidden humanity in others. It’s a positive novel to help young adults and teenagers often ignored in the journey we all share together through the obstacles of life.
This story is a story of redemption. It is an honest and harrowing tale of hitting rock bottom, and surviving. The first half is the descent, and the second half is the rise, and it’s not an easy road on either side. Yet, it was told brilliantly, with Lanny rediscovering himself, and his family becoming a strong and supportive unit again. Lanny does what Trevor can’t–forgive himself. And his recovery is well-defined in the general Twelve Step way. This may be a YA tale, but the truth of it applies to people at all ages and stages.
This is a dark, painful story about bad choices, about the inability to communicate, about young men failed by all the adults in their lives. It’s also, at the end, a story about redeeming your bad choices. The resolution is hopeful, almost too much so given all that was thrown at these two guys from the start, but it does pull the story up into the light.