Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding

Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding

by Jessie Sholl
3.9 81

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Overview

Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding by Jessie Sholl

A fascinating look at compulsive hoarding by a woman whose mother suffers from the disease.

To be the child of a compulsive hoarder is to live in a permanent state of unease. Because if my mother is one of those crazy junk-house people, then what does that make me?

When her divorced mother was diagnosed with cancer, New York City writer Jessie Sholl returned to her hometown of Minneapolis to help her prepare for her upcoming surgery and get her affairs in order. While a daunting task for any adult dealing with an aging parent, it’s compounded for Sholl by one lifelong, complex, and confounding truth: her mother is a compulsive hoarder. Dirty Secret is a daughter’s powerful memoir of confronting her mother’s disorder, of searching for the normalcy that was never hers as a child, and, finally, cleaning out the clutter of her mother’s home in the hopes of salvaging the true heart of their relationship—before it’s too late.

Growing up, young Jessie knew her mother wasn’t like other mothers: chronically disorganized, she might forgo picking Jessie up from kindergarten to spend the afternoon thrift store shopping. Now, tracing the downward spiral in her mother’s hoarding behavior to the death of a long-time boyfriend, she bravely wades into a pathological sea of stuff: broken appliances, moldy cowboy boots, twenty identical pairs of graying bargain-bin sneakers, abandoned arts and crafts, newspapers, magazines, a dresser drawer crammed with discarded eyeglasses, shovelfuls of junk mail . . . the things that become a hoarder’s “treasures.” With candor, wit, and not a drop of sentimentality, Jessie Sholl explores the many personal and psychological ramifications of hoarding while telling an unforgettable mother-daughter tale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439192528
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 12/28/2010
Edition description: Original
Pages: 318
Sales rank: 944,971
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jessie Sholl's essays and stories have appeared in national newspapers and journals. She is coeditor of the nonfiction anthology Travelers’ Tales Prague and the Czech Republic and a contributor to EverydayHealth.com. She holds an MFA from The New School University, where she currently teaches creative writing.

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Dirty Secret 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you do not have a hoarder in your life I can understand how this may seem like the author is just bashing her mother. As the daughter of a hoarder there is no way I could ever explain how relieved I was to find out I am not the only adult child that has to deal with this dirty secret. This book gave me the tools to deal with my own mother, and finally be able to stand up to her. Now she knows I will no longer be the one to clean up all her messes. I only gave it 4 stars because I know it is not for everyone, but I have recomended it to others who deal with a hoarder in their lives.
SaraMurphyNYC More than 1 year ago
Five stars for Jessie Sholl's moving memoir, Dirty Secret. Not only does this book shed light on the psyche of a compulsive hoarder, it does so with intelligence, wit, and incredible compassion. This is more than a "tell-all" about what it's like to grow up with a mother who has a clinical condition; it is also a story about the incredible love, patience and understanding that is necessary for any relationship to survive: daughter and mother, daughter and father, and wife and husband. The author describes what she went through to hold all of these relationships together when her world seemed to be caving in around her, triggered by having to confront her mother's life-long hoarding problem following a cancer diagnosis. And in the end she shows us that sometimes in order to keep someone dear to us in our lives, we must hold them a little further away from us, so that everyone has the space they need to live... and continue to love. She is a talented author who bravely writes about some incredibly difficult and personal challenges in her life, and in doing so reveals what a sensitive and compassionate human being she is as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is no ordinary mother-daughter tale. Sholl's brilliant writing hooks you in the first sentence, and doesn't let up even after the last page (How could I ever stop thinking about this book?) A true tale of her mentally-ill mother's compulsive hoarding, the book is fierce, funny, deeply compassionate, and impossible to put down. I cannot wait for her next book, but right now I'm still compulsively thinking about this one.
lynn11 More than 1 year ago
Jessie lived a horrid life like many of us children of hoarders have. This book is simply written and so easy to relate to. I'm sure this book with not only encourage young people who are still living in these grim situations, but give them hope to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. One day you can leave and no longer hide your parents dirty secret and the shame that comes with it.
wendyric More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and I am telling all my friends that they should make a point of reading!!! It tells us a story about hoarding from the daughters perspective and how it has influenced her life. LOVED IT!
motorcityghurl More than 1 year ago
As I deal with my own "collecting" tendencies,I find morbidly fascinating the topic of hoarding. I watch TV programs and read articles related to the behavior to better understand, monitor, and regulate my own impulses. I ran across this book while on a Nook search. After I read the synopsis, of course I downloaded it. I wasn't disappointed. Jessica Sholl lets us into her tormented experience, and allows us full access to her feelings about herself and her relationship with her mother, the hoarder. For most of her life, despite her best efforts to get away from them, Sholl's mother's problems were the guiding force in her life. It's difficult to understand how we can continue to love someone who causes us so much pain and brings so much difficulty into our personal lives with their confounding behavior. Most of us have been there. Sholl manages to admirably illustrate this most human phenomenon in her book. There were places where I felt the story meandered a bit, but sooner or later Sholl usually managed to let me know why the side trip had been necessary one. She's good at wrapping up the important loose ends. Definitely NOT a hoarder- any more anyway. A very worthwhile read.
Kellie Gaunya More than 1 year ago
i really liked this story, and learned alot about the disease. makes me want to read other books on the subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having very little personal exposure to mental illness, I found this book fascinating. The mind is a mysterious thing, and the insight the book provides into how and why some people hoard and live in such filthy environments (including a bad case of scabies) was eye-opening. The writing is very good, and I was captivated by the author's struggle with her overwhelming desire/need to clean her mother's house and, in at least that way, to "fix" her mother. Despite the fact that her mother clearly lacked your standard motherly skills (understatement) and their relationship is very complicated, the author clearly loves her and wants her to be happy.
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The author's journey from a child embarassed by her mothers odd behavior to an adult trying to help her mentally ill parent without losing herself and without harming her mother. Well written.
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As much as I sympathize with Ms. Sholl, this is a lot of problems to hear about in one book. I was so thankful when she finally had a breakthrough and realized she couldn't fix her mom. Honestly, I wasn't sure she was ever going to get there. I really think I could have lived a very full life without this book.
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