Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: Losing Clementine

By Melissa Amster

What would you do if you only had 30 days left to live? It’s a question that people have been asking all over the Internet. A religious group even wrote a book and created a website for the concept. Would you do everything on your bucket list or just sit and wait to die? Would you have everything in order so that no one had any questions on how to carry on without you? In “Losing Clementine” by debut novelist Ashley Ream, these questions are front and center for a woman who decides she will end her life in 30 days.

Clementine Pritchard is giving herself 30 days to tie up loose ends before calling it quits on her life and the darkness that has plagued it ever since her father ran away and her mother and sister’s lives ended tragically. She has to finish the art she’s been working on, find a home for her cat, make amends with her ex-husband and find out why her father left. As she counts down to the end, each day (almost) is a new adventure and comes complete with an assortment of manic episodes, parties, travel, criminal behavior and LOTS of food. As she gets closer to her last days, she learns a new secret that shocks her to her core and could possibly be a game changer. Will she still go through with her plan or will she be sticking around?

I was really blown away by “Losing Clementine.” First of all, Clementine Pritchard is one of the most well-developed and interesting literary heroines I’ve read about in a long time. Her tongue-in-cheek humor and her wry look at the world makes me want to slap some sense into her and hug her at the same time. She’s described as really tall and tough, but her vulnerability shines through, which made me want to savor each page as I read it. I loved Ms. Ream’s use of description, as I felt like I was right next to Clementine on each of her adventures. I’ve never been to Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, but I could visualize everything. Same goes for all the food Clementine was consuming. Ms. Ream could write for a food themed magazine with how delicious she made everything sound (even though I personally wouldn’t eat some of those items). I also felt like I could hear Clementine actually talking as her “voice” came across so clear. I also felt like I vicariously had a cat, thanks to her descriptions of Chuckles and all his antics. The “romantic” scenes, without going into tons of detail, left a lot to the imagination and were as sexy as all the details were actually there. Also, I love the cover design.

While this was an amazing story and often times difficult to put down, I was frustrated with the abrupt ending. I won’t say why as to not give spoilers, but it felt like Ms. Ream took us on this wild ride and suddenly stopped it without warning us. I wish she could have gone on even further so we could see what happened next. There were also times where she would have us confused as to what was going on, as she would place Clementine in a setting but not really explain why she was there. Or she’d add some people into the mix and expect us to know them from some other time. I also couldn't get a clear idea on Clementine's age, even though a few time clues were implied.

Overall, I was very impressed with “Losing Clementine” as a debut novel. I think that everyone should get to know Clementine Pritchard and become literary friends with her. I hope Ms. Ream comes up with an equally (if not more) interesting heroine for future novels, as I see a great career for her in the writing field.

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