Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Review of "Losing Clementine" [28]

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream
William Morrow, ISBN 978-0062093639
March 6, 2012, 320 pages

As the first line of the book tells us, Clementine has exactly 30 days to live.
That is what she has decided.
At the end of the thirty days, when she has taken care of a number of necessary things, she will take her own life, kill herself. She has suffered for all of her adult life from a manic-depressive disorder and she has decided that she just can not deal with it anymore, with the medications that are suppose to help her but leave her with so many side effects that death will be a relief. Yet she knows that she can not live without them.
"I couldn't live with the pills. That I knew for certain. And life without them was dangerous, not only for me but for those who got too close to me. That I knew for certain, too. So this was it. The only possible choice."
But there are things to do first.
She must decide how to do it, a way that will not leave a terrible mess for those who find her. She knows what that is like, as we will find out. She must plan her funeral, decide who she will leave belongings to, say goodbye to her friends, the ex-husband who still cares about her, her assistant who has kept order in her life and food in her frig...all of whom she tells that she is dying of an incurable brain tumor.
She must find a good home for her cat, Chuckles.
And she must find her father, who left his family, Clementine, her sister and her mother, when Clementine was just a child, setting in motion a series of events that would forever form Clementine.

I will admit, when I saw that suicide was at the center of this book, I put off reading it for awhile.
It would be sad. I would cry. And, in parts, it was sad.
But..it was also very funny, very witty and dare I say, heartwarming.

For me, the book got off to a bit of a slow start. I thought I knew where this was all going. And, as is so often true, I was wrong. I did not buy into was was happening at first, until I started to get to know Clementine. She is not necessarily easy to like but I don't know how a reader can end up not liking her and hoping for some way this will work out. Certainly part of this is because of the author talent at giving us a glimpse into Clementine's mind in the midst of her illness. The reader might not agree with what she has decided to you, but the more we come to know her, the more we will understand it at least a bit.

Clementine is at time quite funny and often very snarky and I will admit, I love snarky! She is a successful artist in L.A., two things which both become very interesting parts of the story, with her artist friends..an a enemy or two..the galleries and museums and watching how her impending death brings on a burst of creative energy. Some of that energy which will actually end up in her art, the rest in a series of almost madcap, sometimes outrageous, adventures. Knowing you can count the days you will be alive can be very freeing!

And might I say that Chuckles, her cat, is perhaps the best cat character I have ever read in a book. He is a Persian stray who Clementine adopted and who is sometimes as prickly as his 'person'. They make a grand team and the scene where she gives his away...{{sob}}.
But don't write the finale yet.
There will be one more totally unexpected thing that happens, which is going to put everything Clementine thought she knew in a new light. Personally, I loved the ending and felt it was totally in keeping with the Clementine who we had come to know.

I think this is a very good debut for Ms. Ream and look forward to seeing what she produces in the future.

My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.


  1. I've been reading about this book all over the place. Yes, it does sound like a very sober premise, but everyone seems to like it and find it funny, witty, and not at all like you might think. I'll be picking it up soon.

  2. With a plot like that this book could go either way. I'm glad to see the author was able to pull it off.

  3. I wasn't sure about this one but now I want to read it. I like snarky too!

  4. It seems that everyone who reads this book falls in love with it. And snarky is ALWAYS a good thing in a narrator. I'm putting it on a "definite" read list -- which is a bit different from my "maybe read" list and my "sorta kinda want to read but not really" list.


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