Back in June, I had the honor of being nominated for the Northern California Book Award with Amy Reed and Daniel Handler. I was a bit star struck by this honor and nothing short of astonished to be named the winner. But, cliche as it is, there really isn't a "winner" when it comes to being nominated with two such amazing authors who contribute so much to the YA landscape.
Perhaps the best part of the event in San Francisco last June was getting the chance to hang out with Amy Reed, author of CLEAN. I had read Amy's book after speaking with her at the Sonoma Book Festival last fall and loved it and had been meaning to write about it for Point of View. The Northern California Book Awards proved the perfect opportunity.
CLEAN recounts the time five diverse teen addicts - wealthy, perfectionist Olivia, party girl Kelly, church-going Christopher, bad boy Jason, and goth girl Eva - spend in a private Seattle rehab center. In the book, Amy gives a nod to The Breakfast Club- type construct of her novel, an automatic hook for me as TBC is one of my favorite teen movies. I love the notion of unlike people coming together under confined circumstances, especially when they shift into individuals along the way who grow to respect the power of differences within a community.
It takes a top-notch writer to handle addiction books, and Amy's one of the best I've read. Her prose is crisp, detailed, exact, and her five distinct voices give insight into the heartaches and struggles of these five very real teens as they begin to investigate their path to recovery. Amy's themes (accountability, recovery, choices) are rich and well-developed, and while this book contains some very difficult content, Amy handles it with grace, optimism and love. These teens have been given an opportunity - to make good choices, to understand their roles in the world, and, ultimately, to live.
Causes Kim Culbertson Supports
thecenterforthearts.org, anything education-related