Welcome to another edition of Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by Should Be Reading.

To participate, click on the link.

Here’s how it works:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

Today I’m sharing from a book that explores a very unique behavior problem.  Dirty Secret, by Jessie Sholl, is one woman’s story about her mother’s compulsive hoarding.

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.


The author narrates the story, and describes a time in her life when she was on her own.

Teaser # 1:  I hardly owned anything and I liked it that way.  I was writing poetry and snippets of stories in spiral notebooks, and when I got to the end of one, I’d toss it out. p. 106

Teaser # 2:  At my Mom’s, I’ve gotten to the difficult part of cleaning.  Shoveling garbage into bags, sweeping up the remains, and emptying and scouring a refrigerator is easy, but trying to decide what to keep and what to toss among three-foot-high stacks of old bills and baskets of papers with scribbled phone numbers and addresses is much harder.  p. 112


I think this is going to be a very disturbing read, but I’m looking forward to it.

What are you featuring today?  I hope you’ll stop by and share.


  1. Wow, that really sounds like an emotional, intense read! I’ve seen Hoarders and other shows that deal with those issues and it’s interesting to see how people get into those situations.. but also terribly frustrating and sad for their relatives and family -especially the children who have no control.
    I hope you enjoy your book and get something meaningful out of it . 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂
    April @ My Shelf Confessions


    1. I do collect a lot of things, but I’m constantly sorting and rearranging to keep a handle on things. I would hate for my kids to have to clean up any mess I might make…lol

      Thanks for stopping by, April.


  2. I did a paper on hoarding for one of my psych classes, so I think I would very much like to read this book! I can understand why people are hoarders I myself am a pack rat, but I am not that severe thankfully, but I can see how it can get out of hand.


    1. I know what you mean, Vyki…I collect things, including books, but I try to keep a handle on them so they don’t overwhelm the space.

      You probably discovered in your class that the distinction between collecting (or being a pack rat) and hoarding is one that points to the kinds of things one “collects.” And the compulsive nature of the behavior.

      Thanks for stopping by.


    1. My daughter is a minimalist, while I tend to collect things. I don’t think my collecting is “pathological,” but she sometimes calls me a hoarder. I have to remind her that we just have different styles. Then she has to admit that my stuff is “arranged” and managed.

      Thanks for stopping by, Diane.


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