Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu
Publication date: February 2, 2010
ISBN 10/13: 080278660X / 9780802786609
Category: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: Hoarding, secrets, lies, realistic fiction
Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.
How I found out about this book: I won a copy from Elizabeth Scott during her recent Twitter follower contest. I had been hoping to read it anyway--the cover is very striking and the premise timely as well as chilling.
Quickie: Hoarding is currently one of the most newsworthy psychological disorders, and Omololu tells Lucy's story with a sensitive and caring hand. I could hardly put this book down (I had to, once--no reading in the chemistry lab!) and most readers will finish it in one sitting... then either start a massive spring cleaning, or start watching episodes of Hoarders. I did both.
For more details, click on "Read More"
My review: Not having cable television (and nowadays only bothering to turn on the tube for Lost) I had no idea Hoarders was such a popular topic. I had to go look it up when the protagonist, Lucy, worries that she will end up on tv if anyone finds out her mom is a hoarder. I'd seen things like Clean House before, but had not seen anything that treated the condition as what it really is--a psychological compulsion to acquire stuff, regardless of its real value.
Reading about Lucy's mom chilled me more than any horror novel I've read in the last two years, because there are people who live like this in real life. I know some of those people, and it scares me to think I might have a propensity towards that kind of thinking; so much so that in between the first and second paragraphs of this review I spent an hour and a half cleaning and throwing things out. (My desk is now clean :D)
I'm sure that somewhere in my mind, I have been aware of the compulsion to keep stuff. It is so easy to attach emotion to things, to assign value, especially if at some point in our life we have lost something unique and irreplaceable, whether it was something physical (like my BeeGees lunch box from kindergarten--where are you, boys?) or something less tangible: our innocence, a friendship, a dream.
My heart swelled for Lucy as she struggled to gain some control over her life and her mom's endless supply of stuff. The disparity between her mother's perception of material worth and what really existed in her house--a jumbled, festering, worthless mass of crap--disturbed me the most. Even weeks later, I can't stop thinking about it: that she invested her happiness in objects rather than people--that she valued her ratty old slippers more than she did her own daughter.
Dirty Little Secrets will wrap your emotions with a suffocating grip; what will set you free is the way Lucy strives to literally and figuratively dig herself out of all that trash.
Who should read this book: Everyone. Anyone and everyone. Lots of people hoard to varying degrees, and those with the most extreme (i.e. life-threatening) examples I think deserve the most sympathy and help. It is easy for young people to not know how to react with sensitivity to unusual situations, and Dirty Little Secrets falls into that category of books that seek to provide insight, understanding, and hope.
Find the author at http://www.cjomololu.com, on Twitter @cjomololu
Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/rnsldls
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What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)