Release Date: December 1, 2015
Pages or Words: 289 pages
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Romance
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris
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 bad-boy. 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.
Trevor wouldn’t even look at me when I walked over to the gas station this morning to say hi. And Jimmy’s Fuel Stop is like three miles from my house so it took a major effort to walk there, especially since I’ve been feeling like total crap lately. Another one of my shaky human bonds bites the dust. I need to go out and get myself a cat.
“Can’t you see I’m working, Keating?” That was all he said. But I’ve always been good at reading between the lines. I could tell what he was thinking as he stood beside the gas pumps, totally caught up in not looking at me. “Take a hike before you get me fired, loser. Some of us got goals in life....” So I took off before he had a chance to make me feel like I shouldn’t have ever made an appearance on the planet earth. But I still know it would have been better had I never been born...maybe Joelle would still be okay.
It’s Saturday afternoon and nobody’s home. Mom and Dad are probably off at the park with Joelle, sloshing through the wet snow together so she gets her daily exercise. Or maybe they took her to the make- your-own-sundae-place to improve her fine motor skills by sprinkling sweet toppings on big scoops of ice cream. I’m in Mom and Dad’s bathroom, bent in half with my head stuck in the closet, searching the cluttered shelves for anything that will get me high enough to escape. And I mean anything.
That’s when I see the cough syrup. The bottle in front is almost new, and there’s an older bottle of a different brand right behind it, little more than halfway full. Seeing these medicine bottles reminds me of something Chad suggested about a week or two ago— that we should try robo-tripping. He told me that if we drink enough cough syrup, the DXM in it would get us high in a “super blissful, tingling-body-parts way,” which sounded pretty decent to me then and still does now. Not completely surprised I remembered Chad’s exact description of a DXM high, I thank God for this dextromethorphan stuff that suppresses nasty coughs, because it looks like I’m going to find my much-needed buzz after all.
Pleased that I don’t have to resort to sniffing glue from the tube on my father’s basement workbench or huffing my mother’s hairspray—and believe me I came close—I snatch the bottles with a shaky hand. They’re both sticky with the syrup that dripped down the side last time one of the Keating’s had a major head cold accompanied by a hacking cough. Licking my fingers provides me with a hint of the cherry flavor I’m probably going to be barfing up later tonight. But I don’t care. I can’t get through a single day without some help, and by that I don’t mean help from my human friends, seeing as I have none left.
The walk to the shed seems longer than ever. It’s an effort to so much as put one foot in front of the other. I haven’t eaten anything for a full day; I’m sure that’s why I feel like such crap. And it’s not like I want to think about this stuff, but I can’t stop myself. The “stuff” I don’t want to think about is really people. The people I have hurt so much lately because of my bad habits.
This list starts with my little sister Joelle, who I told to “stuff a sock in it” when she asked me to read that goddamned book about a kid going to school—for the zillionth time! “School’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Jo. Stop being so damned excited about it! Those kids are gonna tear you to pieces and won’t even wait until you turn your back to do it!” It hurts too much to remember the expression on her face right after I told her that, so instead I stare beyond the leafless trees into the gray sky and think about my parents.
I’ve hurt Mom and Dad a lot too, because they know I’m sick, they just don’t know exactly what’s wrong with me. And I’m not sure how much they care. Their plates are too full already with Joelle’s problems, I guess.
I glance down at the two bottles of cough medicine dangling from between my fingers and remember Chrissy and Robyn, who I use like toilet paper. They can do way better than me in the study-buddy department.
I trip over a root that crosses my path and fall to my knees, but just as quickly drag myself back to my feet. A stray root isn’t enough to stop me from getting to where I’m going.
I’m almost at the shed now, and I can’t avoid thinking about him any longer. Trevor hates me. He never calls anymore, never asks me to go to the shed to drink some beer and fool around. He just looks at me in the hallway at school with angry disgusted eyes, and tells me every chance he gets “you’re fucking up your life and I’m not gonna let you fuck up mine.”
Trevor Ladd...the ultimate untouchable. If I could’ve made somebody like him want to be with me, I would’ve surely been able to win my parents back. Well, no such luck. I’m more of a zero to Trevor than I ever was...and Mom and Dad still don’t care.
Blew my entire life sky high. Which is where I’ll be soon, if all goes according to plan. I lift each bottle of sticky sweet cough medicine to my lips and kiss them, one by one.
Just the sight of the tiny, beat-up brown shed fills me with an indescribable sense of relief, probably like the feeling of coming home after years at sea. As soon as I push open the door, I see that Trevor isn’t here and I’m illogically disappointed. But Trevor can’t save me from myself. He did his duty; he tried to get me clean, and he got clean in the process.
Way to go, Trevor.
Alone in a frigid shed in the middle of the woods, I’m more than eager to suck down a couple bottles of cough medicine so I can be somewhere else...someone else. A vision of Landon Keating forms in my mind—not Lanny, the student, or Lanny, the athlete, or Lanny, the son and brother—but the near-future version of me when I’m “simultaneously mellow and stimulated,” if the online experiences I’ve read about taking DXM are accurate. Sad truth is, I’ll take just plain disoriented. Any effect will be fine if it whisks me away.
I drop down to the cold floor and without ceremony open one of the small bottles. The cough medicine goes down more easily than I thought.
Cherry-berry-sweet-thick-burning-soothing- pleasure-pain. It doesn’t take too long.
Itchy as hell...belly’s on fire....
“Read to me, Lanny...read it again!
”Can’t feel my legs at all....
“Wishes don’t wash dishes, son.”
Can’t stop barfing.... So sick....
“Take a hike, Keating—you filthy, no-good, loser boozer-druggie!”
Blew it with Trevor...blew it with everybody.
Can’t breathe...need a breath....
Gonna die here alone.
Review by: multitaskingmomma
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
I cannot give this anything lower than five stars and Clean is definitely a Must Read. However, I must warn readers: this is not for everyone. There are triggers everywhere and it is raw. It bleeds in it's rawness, probably the reason why this is rated so high and deservedly so.
As a mother, Mia Kerick has her children always at the back of her thoughts and they are revealed in her stories. Clean delves on a topic that may be considered as one of a mother's worst nightmare. No mother wants their children to get into drug addiction.
Lanny and Trevor are young teenaged men who went down that way. Drug addiction not only attacks the body in betraying it to crave for a substance, but it also betrays the mind. No matter how logical or intelligent a brain is, it can be fooled by traitorous substances. Some worse than others.
For such a heavy, drama, angst-ridden story line, this reads clean. Not meant as a pun, but it is a clean story. No lumps, no bumps, (excepting a few typos as I do base this read on an ARC so is not considered retail perfect) and flows fast. There is no hesitation to the telling, which made this read easier than it really was.
Overall, Clean is not for everyone. It is not for me. But I do recommend it as I recognize the need for extraordinary stories out there.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Mia Kerick author of Clean
m: Hi Ms Mia, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
MK: Hello, I’d like to thank you for welcoming me to your blog to promote the release of my YA LGBTQ Contemporary Romance, Clean.
m: When did you write your first story/book? How old were you?
MK: I wrote my first story as a young teenager, maybe about 13 years old. It was actually the story of Beggars and Choosers, and I was the character Cory. When I wrote the story again as a forty-five-year-old woman, I wrote roughly the same plot as a gay romance novel.
m: Are you a plotter or pantser?
MK: I very roughly create an outline for each book, once I have come up with the concept and have created the characters. However, a great deal changes along the way, as the story unfolds, mostly because I get to know the characters better with every word I write. They say the best-laid plans do not always go as intended, and this is very true of how I write books.
m: What do you think makes your book stand out from the crowd?
MK: I think the very strong, very real voices of my characters, particularly teenage male protagonists, help me to stand out in the author crowd. I become so close to my characters once I’ve created them that I lie in bed and envision them in all different scenarios, and I note how they act and speak and react. By the time I put their thoughts and dialogue down on paper, I know exactly what they would say and do.
m: How do you find or make time to write?
MK: I am a homemaker, and my four children are in high school and college. So now I have time to pursue my own career and interests in between the housework, laundry, grocery shopping, and kids’ activities. I try very hard not to work during the evening time that I spend with my family, but I often fail, because not only is writing my job but it is my hobby. But for the most part, I find time to write every day.
m: What do you like to read in your free time?
MK: In my free time, I most often read the novels of other authors who I am friendly with. I also spend a great deal of time reading non-fiction, in that I read a great deal as I research the topics I plan to write about. I also like to read inspirational books and self-help books. On my to-do list is to find some books about heaven, as it is a place I’d like to someday go to live.
Meet the author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Where to find the author:
Website (& Blog): www.miakerick.com
Clean Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CleanbyMiaKerick
Mia Kerick Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Mia-KerickAuthor-231404220346244/
Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/bCLWfT
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