Danielle Rossman's Reviews > Objects of My Affection

Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski
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's review
Sep 02, 2012

really liked it

Hoarding seems to have become a national phenomena that seems to be growing in voyeuristic followers. Cable television is littered with shows that depict this sickness in ways that illustrate the people who hoard as crazy and demented. When I received Jill Smolinski's novel Objects of My Affection I was ready for a journey that I thought would remind me of such shows that I truly despise...I was wrong! Meet Lucy Bloom: Her troubled son's drug addiction has led her to sell most of her possessions and even her home to pay for his pricey rehabilitation center in Florida called The Willows. She has divested herself of a lifetime of stuff and since she once wrote a book about this process, she views it as a simple and step by step procedure that any person can do. Meet Marva Meier Rios: Her troubled son Will is looking for someone who can clean and organize her home that is exploding with all sorts of things from fine art to candy wrappers. She is a famous artist, a bit eccentric and on a personal deadline...dead line! Lucy lands the job despite Will's suspicions as to whether she will be able to handle his acerbic and most difficult mother...Marva must also approve any items that are thrown away! Yes! even a chip bag or candy wrapper!...Smolinski handles what at first turns into a very heated battle with candor and humor. Marva and Lucy are often at odds as Marva tries to avoid the process and Lucy wants to be full throttle forward into it. While it is easy for Lucy to let go of things, Marva's hoarding is more complex. Lucy who is dealing with her own pain over her son Ash's addiction comes to see this, and helps Marva towards the project ahead...with lots of fighting along the way! Lucy is forced to confront her own issues while helping Marva adjust to throwing much of hers both physical and mental away. Each woman has issues with their sons, and the objects in their lives are reflections of those problems. As Lucy goes through the layers of things in Marva's house, they reveal details about the owner...and that Marva can actually be quite a good egg...and a rotten one! Marva has secrets that will be revealed throughout the novel, none bigger then her purpose and deadline which I will not reveal as I do not want to be a spoiler for the reader!...But also, the location of her most famous painting 'Woman Freshly Tossed' which will lead Lucy, Marva and Lucy's ex-boyfriend Daniel on a road trip of hilarious proportions!...I also want it to be clear that Marva is not some crazy hoarder from a cable show...she is limited in expressing affection, eccentric to an extreme, but she is also a person struggling with love lost and things that happened to her in the past. This is a most engaging story not because it reveals a popular obsession, but rather because it reveals ordinary people and their vulnerabilities. It reaches deep to expose how mothers love their children, but still make mistakes...and the damage those mistakes can cause. But most of all, it is about how personal reflection, finding friendship and love and coming to terms with our failures. And how we can nurture new affections when we attempt to to divest ourselves of old burdens...physical and emotional. Smolinski has gone deeper then one might imagine from the cute cover art because this is not mere chick lit., but rather about true life and how we live it...successes, failures and sometimes too much stuff in our junk drawers!
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