Publisher: Walker Books
Released: February 2, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.The only reason I set this book down while reading was to give my eyes a break from bulging out of my head. This book was flipping crazy! Lucy is an average teen who only wants to fit in, but her mother is such a literal mess that Lucy must keep her and their home away from prying eyes - effectively keeping herself from having friends, going on dates, and having the normalcy she craves.
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?
Lucy's story is a sad one, and she is a character worthy of empathy from page one. The responsibility she feels of protecting her mother is completely reasonable - this is her mother we're talking about. Yet the reader also understands Lucy's anger and even resentment. It is because of her mother that Lucy must remain a recluse, lest someone gets close enough to discover her secrets.
Dirty Little Secrets takes place in less than a day, but never does the plot seem forced or rushed. Omololu does an amazing job of taking the reader into Lucy's past to reveal her mother's deterioration all while keeping Lucy's current dilemma at the forefront. This book is a shocking view into the life of a hoarder and the devastating result this sickness can cause.
This book may have had me itching for a shower by the time I finished, but I must say I welcomed that feeling. Because this book made me actually feel all kinds of dirty while reading it, and isn't that what we want in a book? To feel something? C.J.'s next project is actually a paranormal romance series, which I am very much looking forward to. Book one, titled Destined, is scheduled to release Spring 2012. Details can be found on her website.