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

Jessie Sholl, Gallery, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4391-9252-8
In this peculiar exercise of catharsis, Sholl, a journalist in New York, reflects on her frequently mortifying experience growing up with a pathological hoarder. When her 63-year-old mother informed the author that she had to undergo surgery for colon cancer, Sholl was compelled to return to her hometown of Minneapolis and sign papers assuming ownership of her mother's house—a problematic place, which was already an alarming repository of junk in her grade-school years when her parents divorced and Sholl decided to live with her "normal" father and stepmother instead. Fired for being too slow at her job at a nursing home, Sholl's mother, Helen, is a troubled character with abandonment issues from her own parents, suffering from extreme indecisiveness and probable depression. Over the week-long visit, Sholl attempts to clean the house and contracts scabies, which subsequently spreads to her father and husband. Sholl's portrait of her mother is one of the most unflattering of recent memorable accounts; it's unflinching in its determination to reveal her shameful secret for the emotional liberation, one hopes, of both mother and daughter. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-9253-5
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