You’re fourteen, you should be thinking about school and hanging out with your friends.
But instead, you are being suffocated by a secret you’re trying to safeguard the best you can, one your mother is determined on feeding some more with an ever-growing pile of hoarded things that she buys and never uses. Her addiction is threatening to explode out of the windows of your house and tipping off social services.
The only person who could help, your Dad, only cared enough to save himself, escaped out of your life into a ready-made family out of Stepford Wives.
So, you keep your head down never drawing any attention to yourself. You do what you can to keep things under control at home, friends and parties aren’t for you and would only be a complication. No one can ever find out you live in that house, the one at number 48.
But then, Tanvi comes along. Tanvi who is now cancer free and full of life, and for some unknown reasons has decided to befriend you no matter how much you tried to push her away. So, you start living a little, you’re being a care free fourteen-year-old as you should be, even though the truth about how you live risk being exposed for the whole world to see.
I recall watching documentaries about hoarders and how they live, never thinking about the loved ones who had to live with it too, so Ro’s story was very compelling. No longer a child and not yet an adult, Ro found herself being a carer for her mum being left to deal with the consequences of her mother’s addiction to the point of letting it ruin her own life.
There is a mixture of deep joy and sadness in this book, a complex situation told with simple but effective words, in a very direct language. In her new novel, Lisa Williamson shows a side of hoarding through a young girl’s eyes, how it stops her from living and what it’s taken away already while risking to take even more. I found myself routing for Ro so many times during the story, and was moved by her determination to not ask for help, out of love for her mother.
This is a story which may not be familiar to many, but more people than you may think live with this reality. This is not only a tale worth telling but one that is worth reading, and I hope it makes your 2019 bookshelf.
Thanking team @DFB_storyhouse for providing me with an early copy of this title.