Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu was published in 2010 and is the first book I've read about a teen living with a parent who suffers from a hoarding disorder.
If you've seen Hoarders: Buried Alive, you have seen what Lucy's home looks like on the inside.
Blurb on the back cover: Everyone has Secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others. At least that's what I told myself. I stood at the bottom of our cracked cement walkway, the ache in my stomach starting the minute I saw Mom's car int he driveway. If you were paying attention, you could spot the black mold gathering along the edges of the living room windows and the way the curtains were pressed against the glass by stacks of boxes. Those were just small hints about what was really behind the shingled walls, but nobody on the outside ever noticed. All of our secrets stated at the front door.
Blurb from Barnes and Noble: "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. When tragedy strikes, Lucy hesitates to call 911 because revealing their way of life would make her future unbearable-and she begins her two-day plan to set her life right.
With details that are as fascinating as they are disturbing, C. J. Omololu weaves an hour-by-hour account of Lucy's desperate attempt at normalcy. Her fear and isolation are palpable as readers are pulled down a path from which there is no return, and the impact of hoarding on one teen's life will have readers completely hooked."
While reading this book, I felt frustrated at the adults who knew what Lucy was living with but chose not to help. CPS should have been called. Although I haven't ever lived in a hoarder home, I could feel for Lucy and wanted so badly to help her with her hopeless situation. When she tried to clean, her mother would rage at her for taking her things or for making her feel like she was worthless. This child did not have the power to help her mother.
Mental illness is still such a misunderstood thing in our society. I'm glad to see books like this being published in order to shed light on how to make better choices when dealing with it.
This book would be excellent to read with students as the potential discussion points are vast: bullying, mental illness, neglect, obsessive-compulsive disorder, friendships, etc.
Read to a child today in order to build compassion.