Title: The Dirt Diary
Author: Anna Staniszewski
Genre: MG Contemporary
Source: Publisher (ARC)
WANTED: Maid for the most popular kids in 8th grade.
Cleaning up after the in-crowd gets Rachel all the best dirt.
Rachel can’t believe she has to give up her Saturdays to scrubbing other people’s toilets. So. Gross. But she kinda, sorta stole $287.22 from her college fund that she’s got to pay back ASAP or her mom will ground her for life. Which is even worse than working for her mother’s new cleaning business. Maybe. After all, becoming a maid is definitely not going to help her already loserish reputation.
But Rachel picks up more than smell socks on the job. As maid to some of the most popular kids in school, Rachel suddenly has all the dirt on the 8th grade in-crowd. Her formerly boring diary is now filled with juicy secrets. And when her crush offers to pay her to spy on his girlfriend, Rachel has to decide if she’s willing to get her hands dirty…
Thank you to Raincoast Books for a copy of this book for review!
I find it mildly hilarious that I’m drawn to books where the main character is suckered into cleaning. Seeing as I kind of hate to clean (but do it anyway — the joys of home ownership), it’s fun to see others who aren’t keen on it either. Such is the case with Rachel in this story. Her main motivation for helping her mother clean houses for her mom’s side business is to make some money to pay back the money she “stole” from her college fund. Throughout the book, Rachel was deligated to cleaning the toilets — my least favourite job.
But this isn’t just a book about cleaning. While Rachel and her mom clean houses, Rachel comes across dirt about various people she goes to school with, from students to even the school principal. Someone even asks her to dig up dirt on someone else. I think we can all admit to doing a certain amount of snooping at other peoples’ houses (bathroom cabinet, anyone?) and just like Rachel does, it would be so easy to see something at someone’s house and completely take it the wrong way. Thus, rumours are spread and fingers are pointed.
This was a cute enough book. It’s a middle grade offering, so I wasn’t expecting some of the things I usually want in books like grand gestures of love or grown-up conversations. It’s very middle grade. The story is there and the dialogue is cute and young — sometimes a little too young for me, but definitely the right style for the age range. While there’s a fair bit of “don’t judge a book by its cover” going on, there’s also the message of being true to yourself, as well as lots of emphasis on friendship. I loved the friendship between Rachel and Marisol, as well as the budding friendships that take place as the novel progresses.
On top of all this, there’s also the fact that Rachel’s parents split up and she’s convinced she can get them back together (which is the reason for the college fund dippage). This is part of the story that shows the differences between Rachel and her mom and how kids might not see beyond the curtain of their parents’ relationship. As well as this, there’s also the fact that Rachel loves to bake. I will admit to craving brownies throughout the entire story because Rachel made them a lot (and some pretty fantastic flavours, too). While there seems to be a lot of different things going on, they do all work in the end. The story doesn’t seem overly rushed or anything, but paced pretty evenly.
I wasn’t completely in love with the story but it’s still one that was fun to read. Like I said, it was cute enough and probably more well-suited to the age-range than to myself, and there were things that took place that seemed unrealistic as well as lots of “curse” words and phrases that started to get heavy handed. That being said, I still enjoyed reading the story. It was very quick to get through and held my interest until the very end. If you’re an anti-cleaner like me, you will enjoy this story.