Monday, February 8, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets: CJ Omololu


Everyone has a secret. But Lucy's is bigger and dirtier than most. It's one she's been hiding for years--that her mom's out-of-control hoarding has turned their lives into a world of garbage and shame. She's managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they'd be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable--and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy's desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen's life will have readers completely hooked.


From an emotional, mental and psychological standpoint, this book is astoundingly well done. How much research went into the making of this novel is very clear- from the perspective of Lucy to the way her mother acts and even her siblings. This book casts hoarding into a very raw light, showing how it effects the family and how much of a compulsion it actually is.

The entire book is set in Lucy's standpoint, giving the reader a very intimate look at how much of her life has been effected by her mother's habit. From not being able to have any friends come over to eventually not even being able to take a shower in her own home, Lucy has to make huge sacrifices to keep the secret, keep her mother placated, and just get by. What made it even more realistic was the fact that Lucy was not just overreacting and assuming everyone would freak out- one friend did sneak her way in to the house despite Lucy's overexerting efforts to prevent anyone from getting in and everything went downhill from there because outsiders, especially teenage ones, simply do not understand this mental condition. That one instance and everything after- the other students soon driving Lucy to switch schools all together- carries with her, fueling her desire to keep her home life a tightly locked secret.

Even her new friends- a best friend that doesn't ask too many questions and a potential boyfriend that takes actual interest in her- hold no guarantee of being understanding and Lucy knows that from experience. The idea of losing them is worse than the idea of letting them know the truth and it was very real and very raw to watch Lucy battle with that. Her motivations throughout the book- despite how horrible some of her actions were- came across very understandably. Yes, she has them as a support system but why would she believe it when her supposed system in the past let her down? Bad situations are a brutal thing because they stick with us far more strongly than any good situation. Yes, a situation could turn out good but our human inclination to avoid pain is far stronger and guides many of us, even in the face of a situation as astoundingly pointless as Lucy's.

This book delved deeper as well, even hitting on the psychological and maybe even a genetic aspect. Flashbacks hint that Lucy's grandmother was the same way and it is clear her older sister, Sara, is also headed on that road. If anything, the fact for it to run in a family, afflicting some and not others, makes the entire situation even more heartbreaking and I love that additional element of this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The premise was very unique and masterfully played out. While holding a small cast of characters, all the characters were strong and left their mark. Lucy is memorable in many ways, both for the good and bad things she did and her desperation to escape but still keep the secret of her family. This is an author to keep an eye on because she most definitely has talent flowing in her.

Source: Received from publisher in exchange for my honest review
Hardcover, 224 pages
Walker & Company
February 02, 2010
ISBN13: 9780802786609
ISBN: 080278660X
BINC: 9929410

Author's Website


  1. Great review - I have this one but have yet to pick it up, I hope to soon! :)

  2. This one sounds very good a lot better than I expected actually. Everyone has been saying pretty amazing things about this book.

  3. Great review! I love the premise of this book, and I'm glad that it's really good.

  4. This sounds like an amazing book, and I can't wait to read it too. Great review :)

  5. Awesome review! I agree with you 100%, and the only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was because the introduction period felt a bit long. I can atest to Cyn's talent though, and I can't wait to read her future books! :D

  6. Excellent review! I'm about halfway through this now and it's awesome!

  7. Wow, what a terrific review! Like I mentioned to you a couple days ago on twitter, this is one I've really been wanting to read. It sounds so original and deep even. I'm really glad you liked this book so well and I can't wait to read it for myself. :D