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Dirty Little Secrets

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,621 Ratings  ·  818 Reviews
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. She’s managed to keep her home life hidden from her best friend and her crush, knowing they’d be disgusted by the truth. So, when her mom dies suddenly in their home, Lucy
Hardcover, 212 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Walker Childrens
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Eric YA. Hoarder fiction. It's Stephen King for professional organizers, neatniks, and germaphobes.
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Jun 02, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing
C.J. Omololu had me at hoarding.

Megan glued to the television: *gasp* “Ewww!”
Hubby in the next room: “If it’s so disturbing, why are you watching it?”
Megan: “Oh my gawd! You have to come see this!”
Hubby: “I. Will. Not.”
Megan: “No, really! Yougottacomeseewhatthesepeople…”
Hubby: “It’s the same thing every week. Some fat person is too lazy to clean her house. End of story!”

But it’s not the same thing on every episode of Hoarders. Each person has a different obsession, rationale, family issue… I cou
Jul 24, 2010 Kristi rated it liked it
Dirty Little Secrets was such an emotional and absolutely disgusting book!

I can't describe the dismay I felt for teens that have to grow up in this type of environment. It's bad enough that people suffer from this disorder, but it's even worse that there are innocent minors that are subjected to this sickness.

My heart broke for Lucy and her ache for normalcy. I didn't really understand it at first... I was angry at Lucy for not calling the police right away, and then by the end, I had so much ad
Nov 12, 2011 Annie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: A psychopath
Recommended to Annie by: A psychopath
What the hell, C.J, what the actual hell.
I'm not going to lie, the only reason I considered reading this book was because of Munro Chambers who plays Eli Goldsworthy in Degrassi:The Next Generation and just happens to be a hoarder. And I am in love with Munro, so yeah, totally the worst reason to read this but whatever.

Five Things I learned from this book
1. If your mother (or any parent) has a psychological disorder, it's totally ok to let her carry on with her crazy ways
Dirty Little Secrets is a book that I had to let percolate for a while before reviewing. If I’d written this review based on my initial post-reading response I think it might have been quite different in tone and content. Having allowed time for my thoughts to settle, however, has resulted in a more holistic view of the novel as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction to the ending. Because what initially felt shocking now seems exactly right for this story. I think Omololu not only made a bold, confron ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Lara rated it it was ok
So...I read this entire book in one sitting, but I had some very definite issues with it--the ending in particular. The choice Lucy ends up making about how to handle her situation felt really drastic, and...well, not at all mentally sound. She doesn't really face her problems, or let anyone in to help her, just hides them in the end (even from her own family)--just like her mother had been doing most of Lucy's life. And there's absolutely no discussion about the consequences of Lucy's actions. ...more
Rebecca McNutt

There are very few young adult novels out there that bring attention to the issue of "hoarding" - a psychological behavior where a person literally keeps everything, from fine jewelry to moldy paper plates, because they can't let go of anything, whether it's treasure or trash. The main character of this novel, Lucy, is a normal teenage girl on the surface, but inside her home, she has to deal with her mom's compulsive hoarding and isn't permitted to throw away anything or try to clean it up. Des
Jan 25, 2015 Sesana rated it really liked it
Yes, this is a problem novel, and the problem this time around is hoarding. Sort of an unusual choice to write a YA novel about, but not entirely surprising. Gawking at hoarders is a bit of a cottage industry on certain cable channels, after all. Dirty Little Secrets is entirely from the perspective of the teenage child of a hoarder, and it's set almost entirely in the day that she's discovered her mother dead in their home. And fair warning, some of the descriptions in this book are stomach-chu ...more
May 25, 2010 Courtney added it
Shelves: ya-fiction, 2010
Oh man, what a sad, good book. Just my kind of read! Lucy, the daughter of a compulsive hoarder, finds her mother dead under a pile of National Geographics and spends the next 24 hours hoping she can clean up enough of the mess so her family's 'dirty little secrets' will stay secrets by the time she has to call 911.

This is a very consuming, intense read with what I think is a very fitting, perfect ending. And the pacing was just spot on. Omololu frames the story over the course of twenty-four h
Jubilation Lee
This book had a serious upside I hadn’t really been expecting—namely, that much like its similarly-named TV companion show Hoarders, it caused me to clean like a crazy person.

I’d be contentedly reading along and I’d hit a description like, “Opened Diet Pepsi cans that were full of something that was probably liquid once but had through the wonders of science turned solid? In the bag. A shoebox full of bottle caps? In the bag. A plastic grocery bag full of some gelatinous brown goo that was proba
J.C. Phillipps
Feb 03, 2010 J.C. Phillipps rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

Dirty Little Secrets tells the story of how Lucy, a high school junior, hides the family's hoarding secret from her friends, neighbors, and the "normal" world.

It has a great hook. We know in the first line that Lucy has a secret. Ms. Omololu doesn't lead the reader on for too long, and we find out the secret quickly. Then it's all about what Lucy has to go through to keep the secret hidden.

I was impressed by the control of the pace. (And I like a good pace. I can't stand books
Feb 21, 2012 Agatha rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Inspired Kathy
Nov 26, 2012 Inspired Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Yikes. Dirty Little Secrets made me watch an episode of Hoaders just to see what a house like this might really be like. I've known "cluttery" people and my house is often messy but seeing what life for a hoarder and their children is like was eye-opening. It also motivated me to dejunk & clean my house. I may not be a hoarder but it wasn't hard to find several bags of items to giveaway.

This book is heartbreaking but was really interesting to read. Watching Lucy attempt to clean up and sort
Alissa Bach
Feb 26, 2011 Alissa Bach rated it it was amazing
Extremely graphic and highly disturbing, but a gripping page-turner nonetheless.

Lucy's mom is a hoarder. Highly paranoid that she's going to need something someday, she never never throws anything away, never allows anyone to touch her so-called "treasures". Old newspapers & magazines, plastic containers from take-out meals, mounds of items bought en masse at bargin sales, and countless other odds and ends create unsanitary mountains of filth and trash that all but bury every surface. Black
Jan 18, 2011 Khornberger rated it really liked it
We have another book which falls under the category of shock title. It is, however, very appropriately named. Lucy is the youngest child of a hoarder. She is now living alone with her mother and has suffered the consequences for all of life that she can remember. She has had to forgo friends coming over, sleepovers, etc. Once, when Lucy was caught unaware, a friend entered her house and her reaction was to publicly humiliate Lucy.

Lucy is now sixteen and works carefully to keep her few friends a
Diane Ferbrache
May 05, 2010 Diane Ferbrache rated it liked it
Shelves: washyarg
Lucy is a normal 16 year old, makes good grades, and can’t wait to graduate and go 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 is allowed inside. When Lucy’s mother suddenly dies while Lucy is away, she is faced with a dilemma – calling 911 will bring EMTs and police to the house and everyone will KNOW! Lucy’s mother was a hoarder, and the house is filled with old new ...more
E. Anderson
Feb 03, 2010 E. Anderson rated it really liked it
I'll admit it -- I'm obsessed with the show Hoarders. I think part of me is always afraid that my pack-ratty-ness make me susceptible to that extreme. But shows like Hoarders don't always show the human side of this serious, clinical illness, and DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2010) by C.J. Omololu gave me a real look at what it's like to grow up in a hoarding home. Lucy is a typical teen in most ways -- she goes to school, she has a best friend, she likes music and coffee ...more
Melanie Goodman
C.J. Omololu’s Dirty Little Secrets is shocking. It will take your heart and stomach on a journey for which neither could be adequately prepared. Like 24 and Hoarders combined, the book moves you hour by hour through Lucy’s struggle to deal with her mother’s death without revealing her shameful family secret: a house overflowing with garbage, mold, and maggots. Through flashbacks, Lucy provides readers with a more in-depth understanding of her family history and the progression of her mother’s m ...more
Elizabeth Briggs
Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu explores a subject I haven’t seen in any other YA book – hoarding. Lucy is the daughter of a hoarder, and is ashamed and embarrassed by the way she is forced to live. When her mother dies, she doesn’t know what to do – if she calls the police, her family’s secrets will be out.

Lucy believes that people will start calling her “garbage girl” if they find out – as though it is somehow her fault that she has to live this way. She worries that the camera crews will
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Andrea for

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by C. J. Omololu tells the story of sixteen-year-old Lucy's dirty secret - literally.

Lucy grew up in a house with a mother who was a hoarder. And she's had to keep it a secret because no one would understand the piles of trash in her house. She finally feels that she might have a chance at a "normal" life and even has a best friend and a boyfriend. But when something happens to threaten that, Lucy must make a decision that will change h
Lori (Pure Imagination)
Jan 07, 2010 Lori (Pure Imagination) rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-for-review
This book takes place in only 24 hours. Lucy has a big secret. One that no one must never find out about. Her house is full of trash. Newspapers stacked to the ceiling. Garbage piled in the kitchen. Mold covering everything. So when Lucy discovers her mother dead under a pile of magazines, what can she do? If she called 911 her family and their secrets would be on the evening news. This is the story of how Lucy copes with her mother's death and their secrets.

This book is a little disturbing beca
nancy (The Ravenous Reader)
Wow! This book is beyond anything I have read. I cannot stop thinking about it. DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS was so well written that I could experience the claustrophobic living conditions, the overwhelming stench of mold and decay and understand the reasons that Lucy needed to keep the family "secret" safe.

Lucy is coming home from the movies, a great night out with her BFF and her school crush and before she could reach her front porch all good thoughts come to a crashing halt. Lucy knows that within
May 04, 2011 Andria rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-fiction
Lucy's mom is a hoarder: their house is filthy, filled with towering piles of newspapers, boxes, bags, and assorted trash, and any time Lucy tries to clean up or throw anything away her mom freaks out and becomes verbally abusive. Lucy can't ever invite friends over to her house or let anyone know how they live, so she never really let herself get close to anyone, but now the cute guy she's been crushing on for years is starting to pay attention to her. And then the unthinkable happens, and Lucy ...more
Jul 30, 2010 smoreads rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Most of my Psychtember reviews will be formatted differently than my standard reviews, to reflect the mental health theme. I've structured things as though the book is the patient and I'm giving it an assessment. Each axis is an aspect of the book that I'll give my thoughts on (characters, plot, etc.), and the validity score refers to how psychologically accurate I think the book is. Then I may list some other books that this one "shares symptoms with" (i.e. novels dealing with similar topics) a ...more
Feb 08, 2010 leigh rated it really liked it
Lucy is counting the days until she can move out of her mother’s house. This is fairly common among teens, what 16 year old doesn’t fantasize about living on their own, doing what they want when they want and drinking Dr. Pepper for breakfast? What’s not so common is Lucy is counting the days until she can escape the walls of garbage that are closing in around her. Her mother is a hoarder, and the home is a basically biohazard. Lucy goes to great lengths to keep this a secret and lives in consta ...more
Shanyn (Chick Loves Lit)
Aug 28, 2010 Shanyn (Chick Loves Lit) rated it really liked it
If there is one action I want to take after reading Dirty Little Secrets, it is to clean my house and get rid of the junk. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of moving/living different places, so this is not exactly possible - which is probably a good thing, because I may go overboard.

Dirty Little Secrets deals with a family living in a house full of hoarded items. Clothes, newspapers, mail, shoes, magazines. Lucy's mom keeps everything, and this is obviously a problem for many reasons, both emo
April Hochstrasser
Apr 30, 2010 April Hochstrasser rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-the-best
Finally a book I couldn't put down. I'm fascinated by the show "Hoarders" on TV because I think I've known a few in my life, and had to clean out the house of one after she died. This teenager had a secret, and that was that her mother was a hoarder. She wouldn't get rid of anything, or clean up anything. To clean anything was an affront to the mother. So this ordinary teenager is trying to live like a normal person when her homelife is anything but normal. She has to think of all kinds of excus ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
Lucy has a dirty secret - her mom is a hoarder. All her life she's had to keep friends away from her house, especially after a few kids found out and started calling her "Garbage Girl." Finally Lucy has a chance at being friends with Kaylie, and a date with Josh, but only if she can hide her secret.

Then one morning Lucy finds her mother dead under a pile of stuff that toppled over. The last thing she wants is for police and paramedics to come to the house and not even be able to get through the
Chelsea Campbell
Dec 24, 2009 Chelsea Campbell rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book! I immediately related to Lucy, and in some ways her struggles are like any teen's--worrying about popularity and best friends and wanting to get the guy she likes--but in other ways this book was like nothing I'd ever read before. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down until it was all over and I knew how it ended. Lucy's attempts to keep her mother's hoarding compulsion a secret drew me in and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. This book was very intense and ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
She was the parent—she could have done something about it. She was the one with the power to make our lives like the people in the notebook, but instead she buried us all under tons of filth and shame.

I have mixed feelings about this book and the quote above. As much as I love the idea of a book focused around the daughter of a compulsive hoarder, I feel that it could have been handled much better. When your mother has schizophrenia, are you embarrassed of her? When your mother suffers from de
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Did Lucy Do The Right Thing? (spoilers) 2 19 Oct 29, 2013 08:38AM  
Is it good?? 6 19 Apr 07, 2013 07:06PM  
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I write as C.J., but you can call me Cynthia. My YA novel DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS came out in early 2010. My next book TRANSCENDENCE came out in June of 2012, followed by the sequel INTUITION in June of 2013. My newest book is a YA thriller called THE THIRD TWIN and will be out in February 2015 followed by another standalone thriller RECOVERY in early 2016.

You might notice that I only give 4 or 5 st
More about C.J. Omololu...

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“I reached out and curled my hand around her still, icy fingers. I held it there for a long time as I sat with my knees to my chest, wishing that just for a minute she could squeeze it back and tell me everything would be okay.” 2 likes
“I closed the cover and stared at it. How dare she have dreams while making all of us live like this? She was the parent—she could have done something about it. She was the one with the power to make our lives like the people in the notebook, but instead she buried us all under tons of filth and shame.” 1 likes
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