What would you do if you had only 30 days to live? This is the situation for the main character in Ashley Ream’s debut novel Losing Clementine, although in this book the timeline is due to a self-imposed countdown rather than an external event such as a terminal illness. After twenty years of enduring various treatments for manic depression, Clementine has decided that she can no longer live on the medication, but also knows that living off of it is just as impossible.
So she has decided to put her affairs in order and end her life in 30 days. Without telling anyone about her plan, she throws out her meds, fires her shrink and her personal assistant, and even begins looking for a new home for her cat, Chuckles.
As the plan unfolds—or develops, I should say, as Clementine is definitely making it up as she goes along—we meet her ex-husband Richard, her ex-assistant Jenny, and an assortment of other colorful characters. We tag along as she makes a trip to Mexico to acquire the animal tranquilizers she plans to use on herself and, later, as she visits a more upscale, but equally unusual, marijuana dispensary.
Although the book has more than my usual dose of illicit substances, foul language, and sexual encounters, it gives the reader a realistic glimpse into the experience of someone who is struggling with mental illness.
Ream’s writing is incredibly descriptive, and I enjoyed her dry humor, such as when Clementine describes LA traffic: “There is no such thing as rush hour in Los Angeles; sometimes the traffic is just somewhat more soul sucking than other times.”
I would have to say that I recommend this book with reservations. Whether you like it will depend on how gritty you like your realism in a novel, but I do think it’s worth the read.
We are glad to be part of the Losing Clementine blog tour and also to have a copy of this book to share with one of our readers. Just leave a comment below to be entered to win – US addresses only. We’ll announce the winner in our giveaway column on March 21st. This giveaway is now closed.
A review copy was provided by William Morrow. Trish blogs at In So Many Words.