Dirty Secret

Dirty Secret

A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Gallery Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9781439192528
Characteristics: 318 pages ; 21 cm


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May 31, 2018

Interesting first-person account about a mother's hoarding. It is honest and frightening at the same time. Shows how children do not have to be sucked in by their parents' issues.

Feb 09, 2016

I read this book first, drawn to the title, and then Randy O. Frost's equally compelling "Stuff" and all sorts of bells have been going off ever since. Thanks to these authors (but especially the wryly funny and compelling Jessie Sholl) I finally begin to understand something about my own mom, her bizarre attachment to clutter, and my long and complicated feelings of resentment, embarrassment, and worry. If your only knowledge of the darkly weird phenomenon of hoarding comes from reality television, I highly recommend this book and also the case studies explored with great compassion in the Frost book "Stuff."

Aug 16, 2012

This was a good read, made better by having read both Stuff and Keepsakes first. It makes one think about what normal is and how adaptable a child can be or not. Also the life long affects of a parental disfunction on their child. Thought-provoking.

Dec 14, 2011

Interesting; it gives a perspective that you don't get with all the tv shows. It will, however, makes you itch.

Aug 17, 2011

Excellent book!! I really wasn't sure what to expect with this but it goes into so much background regarding why people hoard and what her life as a child was like. I would definitely recommend this one, I am going to read more of this author for sure!

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