Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu

Dirty Little Secrets Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“That was the trouble with secrets—the lies you had to tell to keep them hidden almost made you feel worse than telling the truth. Almost” (pg. 14).

Everyone has secrets about their life or their families that they don’t want to share. Things that you keep close and hope that no one ever finds out, for fear they might judge you harshly. Lucy’s secret is one she has been keeping for years. It has kept her from having friends, and from inviting people to her house. From the outside she and her family look normal, but on the inside is a different matter.

Lucy’s mother is a hoarder. She keeps everything and doesn’t clean anything. For years her mother has said that it is Lucy’s fault because she doesn’t pick up after herself, but if Lucy were to touch any of her mother’s precious treasures, Lucy’s mother would be very displeased. When Lucy had the audacity to clean her room so she had her own refuge from the junk infesting the house, Lucy’s mother took it as a personal insult. No one can come in. No one can repair the broken furnace, or the broken water heater. No one can witness their terrible secret. Then the unthinkable happens and Lucy must find a way to keep her secret safe.

This is a fascinating book. It is on a subject that we hear of on the news or from other sources, but it often isn’t a subject that we talk about much. It was interesting to hear the story from the point of view of a teen living in the mess and desperately trying to keep the family secret. She is surrounded by a situation that seems hopeless, though she doesn’t give up trying to protect herself from disaster.

The book is well written. I liked how the chapters, with the exception of the first, mark time from 9:00am the first morning to 5:35 am the next, and as the time passes, you can feel Lucy’s desperation grow. The reader is given a window into Lucy’s life, and the difficulties she has had living with a mother who hoards everything. My one criticism would be that although you are told this story from Lucy’s point of view, it somehow lacked the emotional impact you would think it should have. I felt distanced from Lucy’s emotions, but perhaps that is because she is distanced from them herself. Still I think she should have reacted more strongly than she did to a few of the events in the book.

With the glut of vampire, dating, and fantasy books being published for teens, this book is refreshingly different, tackling a topic that is not often discussed in teen literature. In the Acknowledgements, the author includes a website that will help people who find themselves in Lucy’s situation.

Cautions for sensitive readers: There is no sex, language, or violence in this book although there is a small amount of drinking at a party.

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