Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review- Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omolou

In C.J. Omololu’s debut novel Dirty Little Secrets she takes on a topic that has been making the rounds of reality television: hoarding. Lucy, the youngest of three siblings, is the last one left behind to deal with the family secret: her mother can’t stop the piles of moldy books, dirty dishes, and crammed boxes of useless stuff that fill every square inch of their home. Lucy’s chance at a normal life is impossible, and she’s terrified that her best friend and school crush will find out how she lives.

When Lucy comes home after school and finds her mother dead under a toppled pile of magazines, the clock starts ticking as we see Lucy, hour-by-hour, give herself two days to get some of the mess under control before calling the police. Then an unexpected event makes that time frame even shorter, and makes Lucy grow desperate. A quick read, it’s tempting to skim over the details of Lucy moving piles back and forth, and her filling up bag after bag with trash. But then one would miss the memories—and her mother’s secrets—she unearths from beneath the piles and boxes. One would miss learning how Lucy’s painful existence came to be, and who her mother was before this mental disorder took over her and her children’s lives.

Some may be disturbed by Lucy’s actions, while some may see them as the actions of a girl who felt she already lost her mother a long time ago. While the ending leaves more questions about Lucy’s future than answers, the book makes you feel Lucy’s pain and fear as she deals with the consequences of her mother’s mental disorder, and struggles to have the life denied her all those years.

-Reviewed by Debra B. at CCL

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Recommendation- Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan gives readers great pictures to look at and decipher and short vingettes to think about. Many stories, most only a few pages, make up this book that is part prose and part picture book.

My personal favorite is called Grandpa's Story. It is a story, told by a grandfather, about how "weddings were more complicated in those days". The grandfather goes on to tell how the bride and groom were sent out before the ceremony with an evelope and a compass and had to solve a number of cryptic riddles and find objects on a list. How he and "your grandma" had to work together and almost did not make it back. Like most of the stories in this book, "Granpa's Story" is meant to teach a lesson or highlight some aspect of everyday suburban life.

I liked Tan's first graphic novel The Arrival, which is wordless. It really gave me a lot to puzzle over. Tales From Outer Suburbia gave me a lot to think about too. I would recommend this book to readers who like to be visually stimulated. It reminded me of Chris Van Allsburg's books like The Widow's Broom and The Wreck of Zephyr.

-Katie at Chester County Library