Each chapter in this entertaining, dark yet humorous debut novel counts down the 30 days pop-artist Clementine Pritchard has given herself to set her affairs in order before her suicide. She starts by crashing into the annoying car that blocks her driveway daily, tossing a teapot she never wanted anyway out of her apartment window, and flushing her medications for various psychoses–freeing her body from the numerous side effects she’s suffered from most of her life. The complex details of Clementine’s troubled history are revealed slowly with each day. I don’t want to reveal too much that will spoil the suspense for potential readers, but I quickly became fascinated with this flawed but loveable protagonist’s compelling story. I was not able to assume what had happened to her in the past or predict what she might do next, so the pages just kept turning.
It was uncomfortable but also quite funny watching her live her last days on the edge without the usual fear of consequences for her rash actions, eating her lovingly described extravagant last meals, and fearlessly speaking her mind. I found myself fearing for how she might pick up the pieces if for any reason she were not to have the courage to go through with her planned death. It all seems very considerate, how carefully she prepares so that no one will be terribly inconvenienced or have to go to any expense for her loss, yet she has falsely assumed that her death would cause no harm. Clementine may have gravely underestimated her worth to significant others in her life. In the course of her last month, it turns out that some are not who they had seemed, and new people have entered her life unexpectedly.
I found this to be a very touching story and a quick read that was well worth my time. Anyone who’s ever contemplated suicide, even for just a moment, can relate to Clementine’s state of mind and the fact that suicidal thinking creates distance in relationships. Older teens may find appeal in this book’s emotionally intense themes of childhood abandonment, but recommenders should be aware that it contains adult sexual and drug-related content. I look forward to more contemporary fiction titles from Ashley Ream.
Look for Losing Clementine in the WRL catalog.