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Dirty Little Secrets

Dirty Little Secrets

Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.

For sixteen years, Lucy has kept her mother's hoarding a secret. She's had to—nobody would understand the stacks of newspapers and mounds of garbage so high they touch the ceiling and the rotting smell that she's always worried would follow her out the house. After years of keeping people at a distance, she finally has a best friend and maybe even a boyfriend if she can play it right. As long as she can make them think she's normal.

When Lucy arrives home from a sleepover to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics, she starts to dial 911 in a panic, but pauses before she can connect. She barely notices the filth and trash anymore, but she knows the paramedics will. First the fire trucks, and then news cameras that will surely follow. No longer will they be remembered as the nice oncology nurse with the lovely children—they'll turn into that garbage-hoarding freak family on Collier Avenue.

With a normal life finally within reach, Lucy has only minutes to make a critical decision. How far will she go to keep the family secrets safe?

Read the "final" chapter! (caution: SPOILERS! Read book first!)
NEW! Read the Dirty Little Secrets FAQ
NEW! Reading Group Guide (PDF)
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View the trailer:

Book trailer by fan Naomi Bates

Buy the book:

Barnes & Noble

Walker Books for Young Readers, hardcover, February 2010
Walker Books for Young Readers, paperback, March 2011


Dirty Little Secrets

Praise for Dirty Little Secrets

We're so grateful that Dirty Little Secrets has found a home in so many schools and libraries. Some of the honors include:
  • Florida Teens Read List
  • 2011 TAYSHAS High School Reading List (Texas)
Nominations include:
  • South Carolina Young Adult Book Award
  • Texas Lone Star Reading List
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award
  • Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers
  • Arkansas Teen Book Award
  • Elliott Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers list

ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee

An ALA Quick Pick nominee

A Borders Original Voices selection for February

Featured in the October 2009 Booklist in the Spotlight on First Novels

"[A] disturbing appraisal of how a mother's obsessive hoarding affects her teenage daughter in this frank novel that spans a tense 24-hour period."
   —Publishers Weekly

"Shocking, tragic, desperate, and believable. Characters, situations, and settings are vivid, and dialogue rings true. As a valuable new addition to heartbreaking but honest books about teens immersed in emotionally distressed families this potent and creatively woven page-turner brings a traumatic situation front and center."
   —School Library Journal

"An emotionally charged novel dealing with the issue of compulsive hoarding tells the story of a girl forced to make an agonizing decision in this nicely realized page-turner. Sixteen-year-old Lucy has been painfully isolated from her peers for years, refusing to let anyone near her house lest they discover the towers of garbage and heaps of mold-encrusted dishes. Outwardly highly functional, her mother maintains the dysfunction in their home with an obsessive grip. When Lucy returns from a friend's house one morning and discovers her mother dead of an asthma attack, she is poised to call 911 but quickly realizes this will expose the secret that her mother (and Lucy herself) worked so hard to protect. A growing public awareness of this disorder will produce many curious readers, and they will not be disappointed—Lucy is sympathetic and real, her brother and sister equally believable. Her mother is a multidimensional, complicated character. Quick chapters throttle toward an unexpected and morally ambiguous ending that some may feel leaves too many questions unanswered. Nonetheless, readers will be rapt."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"Powerful and page-turning, this book would be a great choice for literature circles in grades 7 and up, particularly because it has an ending that will get readers talking in a big way. Highly recommended."
   —Kate Messner, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z

"I LOVE this book! I immediately related to Lucy, and in some ways her struggles are like any teen's—worrying about popularity and best friends and wanting to get the guy she likes—but in other ways this book was like nothing I'd ever read before. This book was very intense and at times disturbingly real, and I enjoyed every single moment of it."
   —Chelsea Campbell, The Rise of Renegade X

"It's a short, intense read with an extremely sympathetic protagonist. I read it in one afternoon, but I thought about it all week. At the end of the book, there were tears in my eyes, but the ending was completely satisfying."
   —Jaclyn Dolamore, Magic Under Glass

"Loved this. A must read! A page turner!!!"
   —Joelle Anthony, Restoring Harmony

"...a consuming, intense read with a very fitting, perfect ending. Fantastically done. Dirty Little Secrets looks directly at the topic of compulsive hoarding and forces you to do it too."
   —Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are