Do you tend to keep old things in order to preserve memories from the past? Do you know that it can be classified as a kind of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a mental illness? The award-winning Canadian author Carrie Mac sets her story in this hardly touched field in her novel The Opposite of Tidy. Junie, an ordinary 16 year old girl in high school, appears to be no different from others. However, nobody knows how difficult her life has been: Junie’s mom is a compulsive hoarder, and her hoarding drives her husband away. Junie, in attempt to hide her embarrassing family from Wade, her new boyfriend, tells lies one after another. That’s why Junie panics when the TV show Kendra arrives at her house, because all her secrets, lies, and her
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Moreover, the title gives the keywords of the novel: “opposite” and “tidy”. “Tidy” Is what Junie and her mom wants to achieve; unfortunately, they are the exact “opposite”. This can be seen from: “her mother and her hoarding and her general decay loomed over everything like an enormous blimp casting a wide, dark shadow.” Junie’s mom’s hoarding is a huge problem in her life. It completely breaks up Junie’s parents and causes her to live under the pressure of being abused because of her family situation. “Shadow” symbolizes the impact it has on Junie’s life and how she cannot expose it under the light. “Dark” shows that Junie’s family has to be hidden in the dark and cannot be seen by others. “Wide” tells us her mother’s hoarding affects everything, even Junie’s relationship in school. This is the primary cause of the conflict in the novel. “The opposite of tidy”: this short but thought-provoking title is one of the reasons behind the success of this novel.
In addition, Carrie Mac’s style of writing is ordinary but powerful. The novel uses everyday language that speaks louder than sophisticated words. As an example, Junie says she “didn’t know what to do next, about anything at all.” This short, little sentence contains all of Junie’s emotions: her confusion, helplessness, and despair. It evokes readers’ pity and make them hooked to