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Young Adult Fiction Parents

The Opposite of Tidy

by (author) Carrie Mac

Tundra Book Group
Initial publish date
Aug 2013
Parents, Dating & Sex, Mental Illness
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
7 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2012
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Fifteen-year-old Junie is barely coping. Her mother has started sleeping in the chair in front of the TV, and the house is so packed with junk, newspapers, cupboard organizers and other helpful items from the Shopping Channel that she can barely get in the front door. Her father is no help, since he’s always with That Woman. To top it off, she’s failing math.

So when Wade Jaffre, the hot new guy at school, offers her a ride home from school, it seems too good to be true. Junie surprises herself by accepting—and even talking! But as they approach her house, her parents are outside, screaming at each other. Junie doesn’t have to think twice about directing him on to her best friend Tabitha’s house, nor about continuing the charade of pretending she lives there.


Tabitha and her mother are understanding—and willing to go along, for the moment. But as the weeks go by, Junie’s lies start piling up and the opportunity to tell the truth seems to slip away. Until one day, Junie’s world—and that of her mother’s—is literally turned inside out for everyone to see, and Junie and her mother must face the consequences f her mother’s illness ... and the lies they both told to hide it.

About the author

Carrie Mac is an award-winning author who has moved too many times to count. For now, she lives in Pemberton, a very small town nestled in the mountains north of Vancouver. Carrie Mac's first novel The Beckoners won the Arthur Ellis YA Award, is a CLA Honour book, and is being adapted for film. Her contributions to the Orca Soundings series continue to get reluctant teens excited about reading. She is available for school and library presentations, and has been known to hold the interest of a couple hundred teens where others have failed. Maybe it's the tattoos.

Carrie Mac's profile page

Librarian Reviews

The Opposite of Tidy

Fifteen-year-old Junie is barely holding it together. Her mother has started sleeping in an armchair in front of the TV. The house is so packed with junk that Junie can barely get out the front door, and her father is no help either. When the hot new guy, Jefferson Wade, offers her a ride home, Junie decides in a split second to pretend that her best friend Tabitha’s house is her own, and that Tabitha’s mother is hers. She knows she should tell him the truth, but as the weeks go by and the lies pile up, the opportunity to come clean seems to be slipping away. But when Junie’s mother’s and her own life are publicly turned inside out, Junie must face the consequences of her mother’s illness and her lies.

Readers will immediately like and sympathize with Junie. She worries about school, friends and boys, but she also tries to look after things at home and keep anybody from knowing how bad her mother’s hoarding has become. Junie is also dealing with her father’s leaving and his new relationship with “that woman,” and her complicated feelings are thoughtfully portrayed. In Tabitha, Junie’s best friend, author Carrie Mac has created a funny, strong moral foil for Junie, someone who acts as both anchor and conscience as her lie deepens.

The author also examines the implications of “talk TV” when the Kendra Show descends on Junie’s home and publicly “outs” her mother. The impact on Junie is instantaneous and severe but, at the same time, Mac asks readers to consider the fine line between art and intrusion and whether or not it’s possible that such shows may do good.

Hoarding is a topic rarely discussed in YA literature, and with her newest novel, Mac has created a heartbreaking and compelling read that will have teens completely invested to the end.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2012. Volume 35 No. 3.

The Opposite of Tidy

Junie’s mom is a hoarder, and Junie is embarrassed to let Wade, the hot new guy at school, know where she lives. She pretends she lives at her best friend Tabitha’s house, and Tabitha and her mom are willing to play along for the time being. But when Junie and her mother’s world gets turned inside out for the whole world to see, they must face the consequences of all their lies.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

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