Published: February 2, 2010
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
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?
Have you ever watched the show Hoarders, on A&E? If you have, you know just how disgusting these people live, and if you're anything like me, it's hard for you to even believe. Both the show and Omololu were successful in giving me chills, and making me want to get up and clean my house right that moment. My house isn't cluttered, and I clean on a regular basis, but it's definitely one of those things that make you think "Okay, how can I never be like that?" The solution is, clean your house. Even if it isn't dirty. I think the fact that Omololu made me feel like cleaning at nine o'clock on a Saturday night, shows that the picture she was trying to paint was rather effective.
If you read reviews on other sites, such as Goodreads, don't believe everything you read about this one. Some people make it seem as though this book is another of your teen romance books, with a hoarder of a mom thrown in the mix. Anyone who read the description could see that probably isn't the case, and it isn't.
There is a love interest in this book, I'm not denying that. However, it isn't the central theme in this one. I could see how some people found it boring, because if you aren't into this kind of book, you would find it boring. It's about a sixteen year old girl's struggle to keep her family's hoarding secrets safe, and finding her mother dead in the house presents her with a challenge like no other.
Is it disturbing? Absolutely. Any normal person would dial 911 (and LET it connect), and somehow move on with their lives. The thing is, hoarders aren't normal. At least, a certain part of their brain isn't. (What is normal anyways? But you get my point.) While Lucy isn't the hoarder, but rather her mother is, she was still raised by the hoarder. She still grew up with the secret, and knew she had to keep it. If she didn't keep the secret, there was a pretty good chance that it would ruin all of their lives.
I'm still wondering how I read this entire book, rooting for Lucy. You would think I would've been disgusted by her ability to spend a day in the house, trying to figure out a way to make it better, while her mother lay dead in the hallway. While I was disgusted by that, I was more disgusted by the condition of her home, and how any mother (psychological disorder or not), could raise their children in such filth. It's happening everywhere. Hoarders are everywhere, and a lot of them have children. This is completely incomprehensible for me, but it is a reality.
Instead of thinking about how disturbing her mindset was, I found myself hoping she found a way. Hoping she figured out a way to keep the secret safe, while getting the guy and keeping the best friend. Hoping she would find a way to keep the world from knowing the truth. Did she? You'll have to read and find out for yourself. I definitely recommend it. (As long as you aren't all "weirded" out by dead bodies and things, as some of the reviewers on other sites had been. That may ruin the story for you, but trust me, it is captivating.)
Overall, this books hits on Hoarding perfectly. It explores what hoarding looks like from the inside, the effect is has on the children involved, and even the genetic aspects of hoarding. It has a message, if you give the book a chance, you'll see it.