Title: Dirty Little Secrets
Author: C.J. Omololu
Received from: pub/author
Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.
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?
I was somewhat weary when I read the summary for Dirty Little Secrets. I mean, it tackles a Big Bad Subject, which I'm sure we all know can either really, really work or really, really fail. Luckily for both myself and debut author Omololu, Secrets for sure falls under the the former.
Lucy has never been normal; constantly struggling to hide her mother's secret hoarding, shes never even had a friend over--scratch, that shes never had a friend, period. But eleventh grade is turning out to be her year, with her first real friend and a crush that is totally leaning towards More, the two years before she graduates are looking to be much more bearable.
After returning from a series of sleepovers with her best friend Kaylie, she comes home to find a common sight; her mother scurrying about trying to find something she doesn't need, blaming Lucy for its disapearence. Sick of her mother's shananigans, Lucy hightails it outta there for another all nighter at Kaylie's. When she returns, her mother had died of an asthma attack and their tightly kept secret is swfitly threatened. But Lucy will do anything to hide her mothers compulsions, even if it means keeping her dead mother in a freezing hallway for a day while she cleans up.
If any of ya'll are shaking your heads right now, your not alone. I mean, yeah! Thats such a great idea, Lucy! Hide your mothers fucking corpse so you can clean up, because obviously no one will like you if the paramedics alert the news that a dead women was found in a messy house! You just go ahead and scrub away ten years of filth in less then forty-eight hours! Go for it!
But on the other hand, I've never been in a remotly similar situation as she has. I don't know what I would do--for all I know, kids do this all the time. My mom throws a bitch fit if she finds a piece of lint on our carpet, so its not like I have much authority on the matter.
Lucy as a character...didn't really seem like a character. More like a shell for a Very Important Topic who lived for nothing but her mother's uncleanliness. But after a while you get to see that she's ridiculously independent, more then you or me, and thats pretty admirable. And while the way she handles basically every situation handed to her is...questionable, I think she handles it purdy nicely. I'd totally chill with her if she got over those self-esteem issues.
The plot is one few have tackled--hoarding. While quite a few people would brush it off as laziness or failure to pick up after themselves, its pretty evident in Secrets that it can be a Serious Issue. I love the way Omololu handled herself, and the way she added flashbacks as she unearthed her Ghosts of Xmas Pasts while cleaning. It was a pretty cleaver way to give some more flesh to an otherwise cartoonish character.
The romance was pretty random and felt a little out of place, but I loved Jason and thought that had there been more substance to his and Lucy's relationship he might have been a new bookish crush.
The ending was...interesting. Borrowing her method from my (and, apparently, Lucy's) beloved Johnny Depp, Lucy both solves her delemna and makes peace with her mother in one killer shot. I rather loved it, though it could've been stretched out a bit more.
Overall, Dirty Little Secrets was an engrossing, fascinated look into those affected by hoarding. Reccomended for anyone who likes a quick, meaningful read.
Rating: 7 out of 10