Most people think that suicide is the coward’s way out. It’s easy and you get to leave everyone who loves you behind to clean up the mess. However, if you told this to Clementine Pritchard, she would offer to paint your insides by sticking her brush where the sun doesn’t shine. Ashley Ream chose suicide as the in-your-face theme to her debut novel, Losing Clementine, which was published by William Morrow.
Clementine is a famous artist who is psychotic, depressed, and fiercely talented. One day she decides that she’s giving herself 30 days to live. That’s it. Do what must be done, or forever hold your peace. She plans on finishing her last painting, having all her legal and financial things in order, and then be done with it all. Some people would call her selfish, but Clementine realizes that she’s the one who has to struggle through her black days, the memories of her mother and sister, and all the failures of her life.
Once the decision has been made and she flushes her numerous bottles of medication, she feels free. Light. Airy. She doesn’t have time to be polite and doesn’t waste what time she does have with silly social obligations. To make things easier for her assistant, Jenny, and her ex-husband, Richard, Clementine simply tells people that she has brain cancer, and a short time to live. The only living being that she knows she’ll miss is Chuckles, her cat, who has never judged her or criticized her…except when she forgets to feed him. Throughout her last month, Clementine makes shocking discoveries, both about her life and herself, and they don’t stop until the very last page.
You will laugh out loud and cry unashamedly. To be quite honest, at some point you will realize that you envy Clementine her talent and her newfound freedom. There’s something about her that people gravitate towards, unless of course she’s in a less-than-stellar mood. She’s real, uncensored, and doesn’t actually care if she’s offended you or not. Ream used the chapters as her countdown. Each chapter is one day, 30 days in all. Ream’s use of first person narrative allows you to feel and discover things right along with Clementine, and by the end of the book, you feel like you’re about to lose a very close friend.
You can (and should) find Losing Clementine at any of Tulsa’s local book stores: Barnes & Noble and Gardners.
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