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Objects of My Affection    by Jill Smolinski order for
Objects of My Affection
by Jill Smolinski
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The title, Objects of My Affection, had the annoying effect on me of making me burst into song each time I picked up the book, but it's a perfect title for Jill Smolinski's second novel. The main character is challenged by the people she cares about and also by many, many inanimate objects.

Lucy Bloom is in a deep hole, both financially and psychically, at the beginning of this book. She is living with friends, sharing a bedroom with their little girl, having recently sold her house as well as most of her belongings and put the rest into storage. She needed the money from the house to pay for a drug rehab program for her only child, a nineteen-year-old son. On top of this terrible problem, she has also lost her job and her longtime boyfriend. Because she had previously managed to publish a book called Things Are Not People, about clearing out the clutter from your life, she has decided that she might be able to support herself by becoming a professional organizer. Her book hasn't sold many copies, but she did manage to get it published, a key advantage for her résumé.

She applies for a job clearing out an extremely cluttered house for an older woman who is not only a cranky hoarder, but also an eccentric recluse who just happens to be a famous artist. Lucy has never been in a house that's so filled with stuff. She can barely walk through the rooms as the woman's son attempts to give her a tour. And, besides the furniture, objects, and what appears to be trash filling all the rooms nearly to the ceiling, she must meet a deadline in order to earn the hefty bonus which is the main attraction of this job. When Lucy starts the job, her mood alternates between determination to finish on time and despair because the elderly artist will not cooperate in approving her efforts. The son has informed her that his mother must have final say on disposing of everything, including obvious trash.

Lucy is an engaging character, and the book reveals details in a gradual manner that keeps you interested. I got so involved in what Lucy was going through that sometimes I would just throw down the book, annoyed with the crazy old woman for hanging on to so much stuff and making it difficult for Lucy to do her job. Other times I'd think Lucy was so single-minded that she refused to see facts that were right in front of her nose. All of the characters are believable, though, and are written in such a way that their interactions with Lucy add to the story. It is fun to read a book that keeps surprising you and continues to be fresh and to hold your attention all the way to the satisfying end.

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