If things are not people, then why do they seem to matter so much? A hoarder and organizational expert clash in this light, amusing novel from Smolinski (The Next Thing on my List, 2007, etc.).
Lucy Bloom, author of Things are Not People, a book no one seems to have read, is ironically bereft of possessions. Aside from her beloved red Mustang, Lucy has sold her home and its contents, using the proceeds to put her teenage son, Ash, in rehab. Admirable, but now Ash won’t speak to her and somehow she lost her boyfriend, Daniel, along the way, too. Broke and lonely, Lucy lands a dream job: help Marva Meier Rios clear her house of clutter in 52 days, and she’ll have enough cash to get back on her feet. Of course the reclusive artist makes the job impossible, forcing Lucy to debate the merits of every fork, candlestick and flamingo-shaped umbrella holder. Under pressure from Marva’s son to get the job done, not to mention pressure from the gorgeous Niko to take a break, Lucy surprises herself by asking Daniel for help. Just as Lucy tries to help Marva de-clutter her house, so Daniel helps Lucy de-clutter her memory. Lucy and Marva must accept that things may not be people, but people do bind themselves to their things with memories and emotions. Only after Marva confesses the big secret of her life—the secret that has bound her past emotions into all of the objects in her home—is she able to let go of the clutter and begin anew. And Lucy may have let go of a lot of things, but she hasn’t released the memories—some true, some misremembered—that bind her to Ash and Daniel.
A charmingly breezy tone marks this warm appraisal of our addiction to stuff.