Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J Omololu

I really enjoyed this book. I think it is fascinating and crazy to enter the mind of a hoarder. I am not the tidiest person myself, but I can not understand the desire to hold on to garbage, especially where mold and growth and disgusting smells are involved. Anyway, this book looks into the home of a hoarder from the perspective of her teenage daughter, Lucy, who is forced to live in an environment she can not escape or control. She lives her life with the shame and embarrassment of her mother's disorder and all she can do is try to make sure that none of her friends find out what the inside of her house looks like. It's sad because she really feels like this is something that defines her and that if other's knew, they would see that she is unlikable or unlovable. The only thing that keeps her going is that she is able to count down the time she has left in high school before she will be able to leave and live on her own. She, like her older siblings, will have "served her time" living with her mother and be free to move out once she turns 18, and never look back. The problem is, there are parts of her life she wants to start living NOW and not after she is finished with high school. Her crush has started paying attention to her and she can no longer bear to tip-toe around her mother's mental condition much longer. One day Lucy comes home and discovers that her mother has died in her crowded home, buried under piles of magazines. Lucy needs to deal with all of this without letting anyone see the state of her home, her dirty secret.
This book does a good job of showing the sad way that Lucy internalized her mother's disorder as something wrong with her and how much of her life and self-worth revolved around keeping this a secret from the rest of the world. It is sad that before she even has time to process the loss of her mother, she is overwhelmed with fear about calling for help. Once public officials see the state of her home, she is sure it will be broadcast on the news, and she can kiss all of her friendships goodbye. I like the way the book ended. It was shocking in some ways, but it also helped to lighten the load that I felt along with Lucy as I read her story.

Score: I really liked it

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