Publisher: Walker Books For Young Readers.
Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.
For sixteen years, Lucy has kept her mother's hoarding a secret. She's had to -- nobody would understand the stacks of newspapers and mounds of garbage so high they touch the ceiling and the rotting smell that she's always worried would follow her out the house. After years of keeping people at a distance, she finally has a best friend and maybe even a boyfriend if she can play it right. As long as she can make them think she's normal.
When Lucy arrives home from a sleepover to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics, she starts to dial 911 in a panic, but pauses before she can connect. She barely notices the filth and trash anymore, but she knows the paramedics will. First the fire trucks, and then news cameras that will surely follow. No longer will they be remembered as the nice oncology nurse with the lovely children -- they'll turn into that garbage-hoarding freak family on Collier Avenue.
With a normal life finally within reach, Lucy has only minutes to make a critical decision. How far will she go to keep the family secrets safe?
Dirty Little Secrets is a harsh but honest and incredibly gripping story of something most YA readers have never seen: hoarders. I picked this up because I watch all of the television shows and specials on hoarding, and I was interested to see how it would fall into a book for a young reader. It didn’t really seem possible, to be honest. Hoarding seems like such a personal and compulsive problem too complex for words, but C.J Omololu managed to pull it off magnificently.
The novel revolves around Lucy’s struggle to keep her family’s disgraceful secret out of the spotlight, while juggling to keep both her emotions and friends at bay. As she attempts to clean out her almost unlivable house, discovering lost and forgotten objects, we see that almost everything that is piled up has a story to it. Those were probably my favorite thing about the book; the horrible memories that only contributed and elaborated further to what her mother was.
The book is a bit shorter than I liked; there were a lot of untied strings that almost seemed wrong to leave the way that they were. But there was something almost charming about the ending that I can’t explain, one that you’ll just have to see for yourself. I was definitely not disappointed.
Overall, Dirty Little Secrets is raw, enthralling, and mind-blowingly intense. If you’ve ever watched a hoarder’s show, you need to read this book. I definitely recommend it to anybody in the mood for something deeper and serious; it’ll pull you right in!