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

Dirty Secret by Jessie Sholl
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Jul 08, 2011

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Read from July 08 to 09, 2011

This book is well written, at times even a page turner. However, it's a bit of a bait and switch. I picked it up thinking I was going to read "a daughter coming clean about her mother's compulsive hoarding" not "the memoir of a woman who grew up with a hoarder." There's a difference. When the book deals with the hoarding mother and the author's relationship with her, it's very interesting. Sholl should have kept to this ground. Instead, she takes long detours to tell stories of her own pedestrian issues and adventures. She tells us in detail about meeting her husband, having a repetitive stress injury, even about adopting a dog and subletting her apartment. These events seem to have little or nothing to do with her relationship with her hoarding mother or even one another. It feels like Jessie Sholl did a lot of writing exercises using her life and then strung these together. It's more like a collection of well written blog posts than a memoir, and certainly not a memoir about growing up with a hoarder once you're past the first 100 pages. The mother barely even reappears after that.

I feel like one of two things happened. Either Jessie Sholl wrote a memoir of her life, and someone, maybe Sholl herself, decided the hoarding aspect would be the best way to market it. Or Jessie Sholl tried to write a memoir of her relationship with her hoarder mother, but didn't know how to take the focus off herself.
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04/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Rachel Spot-on review. Thanks.


message 2: by m (new) - rated it 3 stars

m Thanks!


Linda I'd like to thank you personally for saving me the trouble of having to write my thoughts about this book; and, just so you know, I give you credit for reading my mind in my own review.


message 4: by m (new) - rated it 3 stars

m Thank you Linda! What a nice thing to say.


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Martin My thoughts exactly. You are very observant and articulate!


Katie Aww, this book will be arriving in my mailbox soon & now I'm not as excited about it. I actually have an ex that IS a Hoarder, so I'm more interested in that part of the story. I like memoirs in general, but stories about adopted dogs & subletted apartments sounds a little too mundane. Wish I had read your review sooner. I probably would have chosen another hoarding book.


Shawna I found "Coming Clean" to be an excellent book on growing up as the child of hoarders.


Darcy Most accurate review!! I'm struggling to finish, as her mother and/or hoarding is not the focus of this book.

I shall pitch this book and look for "Coming Clean".


Belle Well said. I skipped through a lot of the dribble.


message 10: by Hayley (new)

Hayley Thompson Just finished Coming Clean in a day - great book!!


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