Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu
This short novel is the fascinating study of a family with a parent who is an uncontrollable hoarder. Lucy’s home is mortifying, and she never lets anyone in the house. “Towering piles of newspapers and magazines. Bags of junk flooding every inch of open space. The rotting smell permeating the air.” But she only has a little over a year until her high school graduation, then she can escape just like her older brother Phil did. She has finally let one of her classmates past her ironclad emotional barrier she uses to hide behind, and has a best friend by the name of Kaylie, who has no idea about Lucy’s secret. There’s even a boy, Josh, who she’s been crushing on forever who actually seems interested in her and invites her to a party where his band will be playing.
Imagine Lucy’s shock when she comes home to get clean clothes for the party, and finds her mother dead under a pile of old National Geographic magazines in the hallway. She knows that if she calls 911 or the police, the news of their “filth and squalor” will be all over the TV and newspapers. The book details Lucy’s thought processes and actions and she comes to terms with what to do about her mother and her life. The end is a surprising twist, but a little unrealistic to me.
I think many of our students will love this book–the same readers who love the Dave Pelzer books (Lost Boy, etc.) and books like Push and Go Ask Alice , that show the gritty and depressing underbelly of life. Omololu tells the story in hour-by-hour detail, with each chapter telling the time. I suspect most readers will be unable to put this book down, and may finish it in on e sitting. Omololu is a very talented local writer, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
Other titles you might like: (click on cover for review)