Every time I watch Hoarders I'm astounded at the amount of crap people can fit into their homes. What gives? Why do people have such a deep attachment to JUNK!! Of course what I think is junk might differ when dealing with a hoarder. Plus, I have a DEEP attachment to all of my books. When the time comes to get rid of some, it will be really hard.
Sometimes it's hard to sympathize with people who are hoarders, but I found myself doing just that when reading Objects of my Affection by Jill Smolinski.
Lucy Bloom doesn't have an attachment to things. She lives with her best friend and her husband. She's also sharing a bedroom with a toddler. She's broken up with her boyfriend, Daniel. And raising her son Ash hasn't been easy. Her teenage son is in rehab. Lucy had to sell everything just to get Ash into rehab. In her heart, Lucy believed she was doing right by Ash. The son that she pictures in her head is very far from reality. A little marijuana here and there doesn't mean Ash has a problem. Right? Coming home late and ignoring rules is OK, right? Having a cab driver pick him up at a crack den isn't a warning sign, right? Daniel did his best to wake Lucy up, but pointing out Ash's faults isn't what she wants to hear.
While Ash is away, Lucy puts all her concentration into her "career" as professional organizer. She's written a book, Things Are Not People, but she doesn't have any actual experience with hoarders. Of course that qualifies her to deal with a wackadoo client Marva Meier Rios. Marva is a rather eccentric artist. One minute she wants help, and the next she doesn't. Marva's son Will is signing the checks, and if Lucy doesn't do her job right she could be sharing a bedroom with a toddler for a long time.
Forcing Marva to face her problems, forces Lucy to look at her own life. Lucy wants Marva to give up her attachment to all her junk. Marva wants Lucy to give up her attachment to Ash. Marva starts to let Lucy in. She starts to let go of her furniture, clothes, and various movie memorabilia. But letting go of the stuff is just part of the problem. Her attachment to things began years ago. I don't want to give too much away, but when the origin of her problem is revealed you understand Marva a little more. She lost everything once before and doesn't want to give anything up now.
Before working with Marva, Lucy couldn't see how attached she was to Ash. If she can show Ash, how much she loves him then he will get better. If she ignores all the questions from friends and family about Ash, then he doesn't really have a problem. Sometimes I wondered if Lucy was more afraid of the judgment from her friends and family, than Ash's recovery. Sure she wants him to get better, but Lucy is ashamed to admit Ash has a problem. Does his drug problem mean Lucy failed as a parent?
There is a lot of good stuff in this book. Jill Smolinski gives hoarders a little humanity with this book. My only knock on the book is the ending is a little too neat. Marva is harboring a deep secret (read the book to know what I'm talking about) and that is resolved a little too quickly. In real life it might end a little different, but overall this was a good read.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review.