Dirty Little Secrets came across my desk in the classroom. It came with a Scholastic order as a freebie and I wanted to read it before adding it to the classroom library. This little book pleasantly surprised me!
Synopsis from Goodreads.com
Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. It’s one she’s been hiding for years—that her mom’s out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable—and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.
With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C.J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy’s desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen’s life will have readers completely hooked.
For those who have finished DLS, there is an "AFTER" chapter on C.J. Omololu's website which can be found here. NOTE that this contains many spoilers, so only for those who have read the book!
Lucy has a messy little secret... her mom hoards everything. She calls them her "treasures" and gets furious when anyone, including her own family, touches or moves them. Her hoarding has spiraled out of control over the years and has had a major impact on the way Lucy lives. As a high school student, Lucy does everything in her power to keep people at bay- she doesn't want to be known as the girl living in garbage. Lucy has to think fast when she comes home to find her mother dead in the home... how can she keep her secret safe?
While reading this book, I just couldn't quite figure out how Lucy was going to manage keeping her dirty little secret with her mother dead in the hallway. How on earth could this play out successfully?? I was so drawn into this messy world that I finished this book in one sitting... granted, it is YA lit and was short. Regardless, it was a captivating read. I was desperate to see how exactly Lucy would pull off the dirtiest secret of all.
This book was so incredibly interesting. It was a chance to see the inside of hoarding, but from the eyes of a child living in it- without choice. Lucy wasn't a character that I could relate to, but I do think she would be for someone living with hoarding or any serious secret they are hiding from friends. Even without personally relating to Lucy, I was still very involved in her plight. Omololu did a great job writing a character who would appeal to people both dealing with these issues and people who were just picking Dirty Little Secrets up for light reading. She also created a very vivid picture of the life Lucy and her family were living. Even if I had never seen a TV show about hoarding, I believe I would still be able to imagine it in my mind through her writing. I also am pleased with the ending- even though it was abrupt, it wasn't sugar coated. Reality is not always fairy tale endings, and I applaud Omololu for looking at the darker side of life. An emotional read, this book is a great addition to a list of 'tough topics' for teens.
Omololu took the veil off of a serious topic in mental health. Hoarding isn't just a reality TV show... it is real life. This book deals with the reality of keeping that secret as a teen and battling the mix of emotions that come with death. I would recommend this book to teens and will be adding it to my classroom library. Things don't always end up rainbows and butterflies... but that is okay- that is life.
Now I'm going to climb up on my little soapbox....
After reading this book, I immediately watched a few episodes of Hoarders on Netflix. It truly is a bizarre and fascinating part of the human collective. However, hoarding isn't about being dirty or messy or lazy; it is a mental health issue that deserves awareness. Hoarding is not in the diagnostic tool chest of the DSM-IV, but it will be included in the upcoming DSM-V. It is a compulsive disorder that has a wide berth of criteria for diagnosis. Typically, hoarding is compounded by other mental health diagnosis's. There are also other variants of compulsive hoarding, such as animal hoarding, bibliomania (yep- book hoarding.. ut oh, many of us could qualify for THAT one!), and OCD. There are now many forms of treatment for hoarding, and I do feel that there has been a raised awareness of the condition with TV shows such as Hoarders on A&E and Buried Alive on TLC bringing it to light. If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help for hoarding!
**stepping down from my soapbox now**
This book is my April keyword challenge book, as well as a Mount TBR book (since it collected dust for quite some time on my desk)
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow
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