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BLURB: 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?
REVIEW: Poor Lucy. She's lived with her mother's secret her entire life, never getting too close to anyone and definitely never inviting them into her house. The one time one of her friends did get a look inside, she gave Lucy a terrible nickname. Lucy changed schools to get away.
I can't even imagine living like that. Piles of trash, unwashed dishes, stacks of newspapers...it reminded me of that Shel Silverstein poem, "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out." (Huh. Makes me wonder if Sarah Cynthia was actually a hoarder, rather than just a lazy kid who didn't want to take out the trash.) C.J. Omolou really did her research for this book, portraying the difficulties facing someone living with a hoarder, someone who doesn't have the same tendencies, seamlessly.
(This next part could be considered spoiler-y considering it's teased in the blurb but this event happens in the first quarter of the book, so I'm going for it.)
When she finds her mother dead, Lucy has to make a difficult decision--and she choses to try and preserve her now-semi-normal life by holding off calling the police and trying to clean up the house so she and her house won't end up on the news. It's not a completely rational decision but Lucy really has no one to talk to about it. Her older sister is just like their mother and her brother has no desire to return or even discuss anything regarding their mother. She can't tell her friend, she can't tell her sort-of boyfriend. This is a decision she has to make completely on her own. And she has to live with the consequences.
DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS. You have to read it to believe it.
AUTHOR BIO: C. J. OMOLOLU is the author of Dirty Little Secrets, her first novel. She lives in Northern California, with her husband and two sons.