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Dirty Little Secrets
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Dirty Little Secrets

4.2 82
by C. J. Omololu

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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. Tackling an increasingly discussed topic that is both fascinating and disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy's desperate attempt to save her


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. Tackling an increasingly discussed topic that is both fascinating and disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy's desperate attempt to save her family. Readers join Lucy on a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen's life will have them completely hooked.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
Things are finally getting on track for Lucy Tompkins. She has a new best friend named Kaylie, and a guy with "Johnny Depp-ness" good looks seems interested in her. In two years, she can join her siblings and enter adulthood, never looking back. No one knows about her depressed and controlling mother or her home filled with stacks of newspapers, magazines, books, and trash. She has even managed to keep not having hot water or heat a private matter. On Tuesday morning, it seems like the family's largest secret will be revealed when Lucy comes home and finds Mom lying dead amidst the "treasures" she refuses to throw away. Lucy spends the entire book trying to decide the best way to protect her family from embarrassment. This appealing first novel is divided by hours, 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning until 5:25 a.m. on Wednesday, which emphasizes the immediacy of Lucy's problem. The flashbacks might seem contrived, and Lucy's sporadic errors in judgment and lack of confidence might prove irritating to some readers, but others will be too busy wondering whether Lucy will manage to protect her family's privacy to notice. This reviewer's twelve-year-old son also read the book and concluded that although the plot is suspenseful, the author offers a too-simplistic solution to Lucy's problem. Because the book's flaws are minor, fans of young adult literature are likely to still embrace it. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
There are lots of books about keeping family secrets, like alcoholic or depressed parents or sexual abuse, but this is a fairly unique entry in that it deals with compulsive hoarding and its affect on a child's life. Lucy's mother was once an accomplished pianist and seamstress. She is still functioning as an oncology nurse, but she has gradually fallen apart since her divorce—a fairly common theme in teen literature. The mother's disintegration has taken the form of never throwing anything away, so that the house is now filled with stacks of newspapers and magazines, rotting food, and unopened shopping bags. There is barely a path to the front door, and mildew and stench pervade the air. Since no one can be allowed into the house, including repair people, essential appliances that break are not fixed. They are living without a hot water heater. Lucy's life is totally controlled by the need to keep the state of affairs a secret, even from her best friend Kaylie or her new crush Josh. Her older sister is out of the house, and she won't even acknowledge there's a problem. Meanwhile, her older brother keeps telling her to just tough it out for another year or two until she goes away to college. Then one day, Lucy comes home to find that several stacks of magazines have toppled onto and trapped her mother, precipitating a fatal asthma attack. If Lucy calls 911, the whole situation will be revealed, and she fears losing what little she has. Instead, she decides to just open the windows to the cold December air and try to clean up the place before anyone finds out. The size of the task defeats her intentions as we follow her almost hour by hour trying to shovel out a houseful of garbage. Faced with exposure, she moves the tiny space heater from her bedroom into the living room. A fire starts, and she escapes out one of the windows. The last we see of Lucy, she is wrapped in a blanket, standing by the ambulance with sympathetic neighbors offering to help her. This is a realistic portrayal of hoarding behavior and a sympathetic rendition of the impact on children's lives. However probable the ending of the story may be, it is not a solution; rather, it is the desperate act of a fevered adolescent brain. One should only recommend this book if discussion is going to follow, for the novel itself fails to address the consequences and aftermath of Lucy's actions. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
Publishers Weekly
Debut author Omololu gives a disturbing appraisal of how a mother’s obsessive hoarding affects her teenage daughter in this frank novel that spans a tense 24-hour period. The grief 16-year-old Lucy experiences when her mother dies suddenly at home is overshadowed by her dread that paramedics and the general public will learn her family’s secret: they’ve been living amid piles of filth due to her mother’s refusal to ever throw anything away. (“The last repairman didn’t get past the front hallway before realizing the place was too full of crap to even get near the hot water heater,” Lucy remembers.) Lucy’s decision to clean up the mess before notifying authorities may seem ill-founded and unbelievable to some, but readers will feel compassion for her as she recalls how her mother’s compulsive behavior has cost her friendships and a normal social life, as well as posing health risks. Tension intensifies as the clean-up process proves even more overwhelming than Lucy imagined. Her determination to erase the past may lead to debates about whether Lucy’s motives are rooted in selfishness, shame, or love. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Lucy keeps a horrendous secret. At her old school, it accidentally slipped that her mother's obsessive hoarding forced Lucy, her brother, and her sister to live in the midst of endless stacks of junk and filth, earning Lucy the nickname "garbage girl." Now, starting her junior year in a new school, she has a great best friend, a potential boyfriend of her dreams, and no one gets to see the interior of her house. Since her older siblings have moved out and her father is remarried, she lives alone with her unstable mother—until the night Lucy comes home and finds that the woman has died in the rubble. She panics about reporting the death, because then everyone will discover the truth about their living conditions. Lucy's attempts to clear the massive amounts of trash from the house, to no avail, lead to an ultimate "solution" that is shocking, tragic, desperate, and believable. Characters, situations, and settings are vivid, and dialogue rings true. As the teen tries to dispose of the debris before calling the police, effective and well-placed flashbacks triggered by unearthed items link her remembrances about what brought the house to its present condition and reflect her feelings about tense and frustrating parental and sibling relationships. As a valuable new addition to heartbreaking but honest books about teens immersed in emotionally distressed families, like Nancy Werlin's The Rules of Survival (Dial, 2006), this potent and creatively woven page-turner brings a traumatic situation front and center.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO
Kirkus Reviews
An emotionally charged novel dealing with the issue of compulsive hoarding tells the story of a girl forced to make an agonizing decision in this nicely realized page-turner. Sixteen-year-old Lucy has been painfully isolated from her peers for years, refusing to let anyone near her house lest they discover the towers of garbage and heaps of mold-encrusted dishes. Outwardly highly functional, her mother maintains the dysfunction in their home with an obsessive grip. When Lucy returns from a friend's house one morning and discovers her mother dead of an asthma attack, she is poised to call 911 but quickly realizes this will expose the secret that her mother (and Lucy herself) worked so hard to protect. A growing public awareness of this disorder will produce many curious readers, and they will not be disappointed-Lucy is sympathetic and real, her brother and sister equally believable. Her mother is a multidimensional, complicated character. Quick chapters throttle toward an unexpected and morally ambiguous ending that some may feel leaves too many questions unanswered. Nonetheless, readers will be rapt. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.82(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

C. J. Omololu (Oh-moh-LOH-loo) didn't grow up in a hoarded home, but has seen what the disorder can do to a family. Her research with the organization Children of Hoarders informed Dirty Little Secrets, which is her first novel. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons.

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Dirty Little Secrets 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
KLBCHOICES More than 1 year ago
Lucy Anne Tompkins has been hiding from the world for years - coming up with excuses and making up stories to keep people from stepping foot inside of her home- so no one would find out about her dirty little secret. Lucy's sister, Sara, and brother, Phil, have escaped the house on Collier Avenue and now she's the only one left; the only one to care for her mother, Joanna, who doesn't see anything abnormal about living in a house filled with tons of garbage, old magazines and newspapers stacked high and taken over by filth and mold. Lucy is the child of a hoarder. I felt bad for Lucy: She was so afraid she was going to lose the only two friends she had, she was verbally attacked by her mother, her dad didn't care what was going on with her, she was paranoid at times and she took responsibility for things that weren't her fault. This book has twenty chapters. By the end of Chapter 19 I guessed what was going to happen next but it wasn't the ending I expected. Lucy went to the extreme to keep the family "hoarding" secret from becoming known but I really don't believe she saw it that way and that, among a few other things, made me wonder about her mental health. Omololu did a very good job with this story. The way it moves from present to past flows very well and the descriptions of Lucy's home are so vivid I felt like I was there (I often scrunched my face in disgust). This was an interesting read. Hoarding is something I will never fully understand but Dirty Little Secrets offers insight into this unusual behavior.
xalovestoryx More than 1 year ago
Omololu's debut novel, which tells the suffering of a young girl whose mother is a hoarder, infiltrates deep into the unknowns of a largely overlooked mental condition. This novel profoundly illustrates the pain and embarrassment sixteen-year-old Lucy endures to fake a normal life, and the lengths she will go to to protect and hide her family's secret. Although the story does grow dull at times, it packs a very poignant punch, and will likely stay with the reader long after the last page is read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever suspenceful yet heartbreaking i just couldnt put the nook down i read it over and over
carebear_ More than 1 year ago
Dirty little secrets-C.J OMOLOLU I thought this book was very intresting and kept me going after every chapter i wanted to know what would happen next! it had moments when that were sad and it connected to real life situations i would recommend this to everyone, so many secrets! -Brina Timber Creek High School class of 2014
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an awesome book but sad book at some points. I havnt finished it yet but i bet it is amazing. I got it from a book fair but it is truely aamazing an then i orderd it on my nook and now i am reding it on here. At one point i did get bored with it and i almost stoped reading it but i kept on reading it and i got interested in it. Now i cant stop reading it i lay in bed at night and read it untill like 1 oclock in the morning. Lol.
cheryl wood More than 1 year ago
really good! it could be disterbing but really good and has a great ending!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. It tells the story of a teenage girl going through realistic problems. Some parts were really sad. Overall, it shows a girl going to great lengths to keep her mother's hoarding a secret. The sad truth is that this happens all the time, and people want to do something about it but they can't.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a very interesting subject that the book dealt with to show the struggle of one teen.
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Most of us have seen those episodes of Hoarders, but even seeing it doesn't seem to make it any more real for those of us that have never been around it. Omololu paints a picture of hoarding that comes to life. Dirty Little Secrets is one of the best books I've read recently. It captured my attention immediately and still hasn't let it go, even after finishing the book. It was a quick read, but please don't mistake that as meaning it wasn't a good book. Lucy was a really great main character. She's smart, strong, determined, and flawed. It's her flaws, though, that make her into such a believable and likeable character. My heart broke for her and I was hoping the entire time she would come out okay in the end. Omololu adds just enough romance to the book for a nice balance. I really like that the romance of the book didn't become the focus. The book wouldn't have impacted me the same way if the romance was more prominent than it was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book keeps yiu on edge the whole time and is really great i would reccomend anyone to read this, the book is really great this author really was a great writer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow amazing 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting to me, because i wouldnt think that this book would have ended like this. I am not going to tell you the story o this book, because you should read it and find out. What i will tell you is that it is a secret keeoung story sn that it is mysterious. You never know what will happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unexpected ending cfor a great plot....definitly a must read
Kristen Nelson More than 1 year ago
REALLY amazinng story!!! Very well written. Could see this become a movie.
Robinhood2000 More than 1 year ago
Dirty Little Secret Everyone has a secret. But Lucy’s is bigger and dirtier than most. Lucy is a normal 16 year old, makes good grades, and is counting down the days until she graduates and goes to college, but she has lived with a secret her whole life. She is careful making friends and never invites them into her house. In fact, no one except close family members are allowed inside. One day Lucy’s life takes a turn for the worst; when she comes home and is faced with a dilemma. This problem would cause everyone to know about Lucy’s mother’s obsession; hoarding. In the hours of this dilemma, Lucy makes a life changing decision. This is an interesting, suspense filled book. I definitely would recommend others to read it. Unfortunately, the book’s ending is not the best part of the book. Also, although the readers might understand Lucy’s reasoning, her decisions are arguable. On another scale I loved the vivid language in this book. It described all of Lucy’s emotions, actions, and thoughts to a point where you feel as though you are in Lucy’s shoes. Also, I couldn’t put the book down, and I’m sure teens will sympathize with Lucy’s problems. I think that teens in middle school and teens in high school should read this book. This book is all about Lucy as a teen facing things and struggling to get through them, as all teens do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was confusing at the beginning. It is a good book for teens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really really good.  I could not put it down.  I read it straight through.  I wish it had been twice as long, but it was really great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow i only read the sample but i like it already, hope the rest of the book is good! :p
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well im not done yet but this seems like a really good book........i saw it at my school book fair and didnt get it because i knew i woukd like it on here better but i couldnt remember the name of the book........ ANYWAY I RECOMMAND IT TO ANYONE WHO LIKES A GOOD MYSTERY AND LIFE - LESSONED BOOKS