From the back page: “Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others. At least that’s what I told myself. I stood at the bottom of our cracked cement walkway, the ache in my stomach starting the minute I saw Mom’s car in the driveway. If you were paying attention, you could spot the black mold gathering along the edges of the living room windows and the way the curtains were pressed against the glass by stacks of boxes. Those were just small hints about what was really behind the shingled walls, but nobody on the outside every noticed. From out here, it looked pretty normal. All of our secrets started at the front door.”
This doesn’t give too much away, but it makes you wonder what’s going on in this house, right? C.J. Omololu has written a really interesting book about something that probably happens a lot more than we think.
Lucy’s got a good head on her shoulders, which is a really good thing, considering she’s living with her mother, who happens to be a hoarder. Big time. The way Lucy describes it, there are narrow trails through her house, but some rooms are so full, they can’t even go in them any more. And there’s no working kitchen anymore. And no working bathroom anymore. Lucy’s doing her best to just make it through the two years until she graduates, but it’s hard. Her brother’s at college and doesn’t seem to want to help her out, and her sister’s no help either. Lucy’s been hiding her home situation from everyone, but then something big happens that is going to change her life forever. And no, I’m not telling you what it is. No spoilers here – you’re going to have to read this one for yourself.
I picked this book up as a diversion from Kraken, which I’m still making my way through (slowly). I have to admit, even though the story was making me a little anxious, I had to keep reading, just to find out what was going to happen to Lucy. She’s actually a very likeable character, but I sometimes wished that she had reached out to someone on the outside for help (although I could understanding her motivations for wanting to keep everything a secret). What’s really horrifying here is that this is a real situation for some people. I think more of us are aware of this problem, thanks to reality television, but this is the first book I’ve read which really brings up this topic, and what it must be like to live with someone who is a hoarder. If you’re an adult, and the person you live with has this disorder, you can always leave – but what do you do if it’s your parent? And you have nowhere to go? Although this book was at times hard to read, I appreciated that the author wrote this story because I think it’s okay to read something and have it bother you. I got frustrated with Lucy, and with her mom, and with her siblings --- but that just meant that these characters were well-written, and I was getting into the story. I also found myself thinking that the next time I’m not feeling too happy about the dust bunnies in my own house, I should think about living in the kind of house Lucy’s in.
I wanted to wash my hands and clean my house from top to bottom when I finished this book. I’ve tried to keep from letting any spoilers sneak through here, but let me say this: if you read this book, you’re going to get a real shock when you get to Chapter 20. At least I did. This might not be the easiest book to read, but it’s a good story, and I’m glad I picked it up.
Where I got this book: my library