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

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