Clementine Pritchard has decided to end her life, but she's decided to take a month to do it. In thirty days, Clementine has to sort her life out before it ends, which means road trips to Mexico with her ex-husband, seeking out her estranged father, and finishing her final work of art.
Clementine herself is a woman to be reckoned with - an artist with an I'll Do What I Want Cause I'm Dying attitude, matched too with dry humour and interesting ideas about people and the world around her. While not initially the kind of woman I wanted to spend thirty days of narrative with, there was a curious charm about her that kept me reading. She's plenty flawed, and as the book goes on, there are some horrible truths to her past revealed; I was entirely sympathetic of her decision to die.
Ashley Ream tells her story from Clementine's point of view, and the narrative is sensitive to the ways that she sees the world. Losing Clementine is a sensual read - Clementine is a mixed media artist, and she notices the quality of cardstock of a business card, or a menu. But my favourite parts have to be the descriptions of food. Ream does this so fantastically well that I spent a lot of time reading this with a hungry tummy. It's just so delicious, the tastes and the smells and the sounds of the diners/restaurants. Mmm. It makes me wish I ate out more often, but I'm not a rich artist living in Los Angeles.
Of all the relationships in the novel, the strongest (and most authentic, probably) was that between Clementine and her cat Chuckles. Such is actually the saddest crux of the book. But it's through all these various relationships with family, friends, faux-family and faux-friends, that Clementine makes her ultimate decision to die. Then we read the end point and the actual end of the novel, and I'm not really sure how I feel about all of this. Maybe just a paragraph or two more, and I'd be much more satisfied. On starting a book about suicide, there's the inevitable Will She/Won't She, and my decision was made at the start, though it changed throughout, but remained the same at the end. Still, not sure what I think about that.
All in all, though, Losing Clementine is an entertaining debut and it can be refreshing to read a book that is so focused on character rather than plot. There are various stories and plotlines going on here, but the focus is on Clementine and the people she knows. For a book on mental illness and suicide, it's quite a delight!