A fresh, fun, totally addictive debut—by turns hilarious and tragic—by a gifted new writer, Losing Clementine follows a famous artist as she attempts to get her messy affairs in order en route to her eventual planned suicide a month later. First time author Ashley Ream takes a usually macabre subject and makes it accessible, relatable, and funny, and, in Clementine, has created one of the most endearing and unforgettable characters in recent fiction.
Ream's debut kicks off with a brash introduction to brazen artist Clementine Pritchard, who's fired both her shrink/lover and her well-meaning assistant for the same reason: she's decided to kill herself in 30 days. Depressed and at odds with her antipsychotic meds, Clementine has no immediate family and no one to care for (except Chuckles the cat). Structured as a countdown, unfolding chapters deliver Clementine's biting humor and comically methodical approach to undertaking the tidiest suicide possible, including final errands like meeting prospective caretakers for Chuckles and a quick trip to Tijuana for her poison of choice. The narrator's abrasive attitude toward her ex-husband (she tells him that she's terminally ill, for starters) and assistant both thwart and illuminate her character. But beyond Clementine's fresh and witty voice is a genuine survey of the complex emotions that accompany those affected by depression. Ream doesn't let Clementine shy away from her poor decisions, but she doesn't let her get away with them either. This novel, spiked with dark humor ("you only die once, right?") is an entertaining and moody whirlwind. Whether readers love or hate Clementine, they won't soon forget her.
A light look at a heavy premise
The sardonic voice of Clementine Prichard leaps off the pages of her last 30 days of life. She's got scores to settle, ends to tie up, and most importantly to find a home for her cat.
Clementine, though humorous, is a hard character to root for most of the time. She lies to and mistreats everyone around her, yet she's also hard to root against.
I judge a book on whether I want to reread it, and I did want to clarify parts of the story. Unfortunately, I couldn't plow through any of it a second time.