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Losing Clementine - Ashley Ream Mental illness often drives people to behave in irrational ways. You might act impulsively, you might shut down emotionally, you might not be able to interact successfully with others. Whatever effect mental illness has on your behavior, the result is often paired with a lack of self-awareness. You simply can't recognize that your behavior isn't rational. I'd venture to say that's the case with Clementine, the the titular lady in Ashley Ream's debut novel. An eccentric artist who is more or less at the brink, Clementine gives herself thirty days to sort out her affairs and live her life before, well, ending her life. Structured as a countdown of sorts, each chapter moves us one day closer to the end. Clementine's behavior throughout this novel is certainly not rational or self-aware: she travels to Mexico to procure illegal tranquilizers with which to do the deed, she sleeps with her ex-husband and her therapist, flushes her medication, commits vandalism, and cancels a showing at a gallery at the last minute.

Basically, she's a jerk. I'd argue that it's okay for a character to be a jerk if there's a purpose to it and I get that someone who's decided to commit suicide is prone to reckless behavior. That's all very realistic, but there's no point to it here. The character and her mental illness weren't complex enough, and there wasn't enough evolution in the plot for me to feel like there was anything else going on besides: she's acting like a jerk. I don't feel any empathy for Clementine. I wasn't hoping she would get help or move towards an epiphany moment, I wasn't rooting for her to succeed in her suicidal goals. I just didn't care what happened to her, and that was the biggest thing holding this book back. Ream is fairly witty and her prose is fine. I just didn't want to engage with Clementine.