Simon and Schuster, 2012
Lucy Bloom is a professional organizer, or at least that’s what she’s supposed to be since she’s the author of a how-to book called Things are not People. She wishes her own life was as organized as her book makes her out to be. Ever since she broke up with her boyfriend and had to sell her house to pay for her son’s rehab, she’s been living out of suitcases on a friend’s couch. Luckily a famous artist’s son read of her book and hired her to clear out the cluttered home of the reclusive woman; maybe she can use the money to start over again herself.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to persuade Marva Meier Rios to give up any of the belongings she’s accumulated over the past several decades. Marva won’t let Lucy throw away anything without examining it herself first, so each working session is full of persuading and then arguing over each item until Lucy despairs of making any progress. After a short time Lucy determines that Marva is a hoarder, a mental condition that Lucy feels unable to deal with. When Marva’s son issues a deadline with an ultimatum, however, Lucy knows that she has no choice but to tackle the problem head on in order to finally get paid and go forward with her own life.
Lucy is an interesting character because she is so paradoxical. She is supposedly an expert in organization, yet her own life is a mess. She believes that she should sacrifice everything to help her son, yet doesn’t realize that he has taken advantage of her generosity. She is in denial about the reasons she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, projecting the blame onto him for a difficult situation she couldn’t face herself. Lucy has her faults to be sure, but they are realistic and understandable and we end up really rooting for her to finally put herself first. Some may think this is light reading, but there are deeper messages here that make for a meaningful and satisfying reading experience.
Other novels by this author:
The Next Thing on My List (2008)
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