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The Dirt Diary


The Dirt Diary

Can you imagine being in eighth- grade and having to clean the houses of the popular kids? That’s what happens to Rachel in THE DIRT DIARY by Anna Staniszewski. It’s bad enough just dealing with school when you’re not popular, but this is the worst. Rachel’s parents are separated and her dad moved to Florida. The money is tight, so Rachel’s mom started her own cleaning business as a second job. Rachel is in a predicament because she took her college savings money to buy a ticket to see her dad. She is convinced that when he sees her, he’ll miss her and her mom and want to return home. Rachel needs to put money into her bank account before her mom sees the bank statement, so Rachel decides to work for her mom to earn back the money. She is also hoping to win the baking contest this year because there is a cash prize.

Anna Staniszewski knows how to dig into the inner lives of eighth graders in both a humorous and engaging way

The first day of cleaning is like fingers screeching down the chalkboard. The first stop is cleaning her nemesis’ house, Briana Riley. She is pleasantly surprised when Evan, Briana’s good-looking brother, is at the house. While she is in Briana’s room, Rachel picks up a photo when Briana comes storming in. Ugh! The story gets interesting when Briana’s boyfriend --- and Rachel’s crush --- Steve Mueller, asks Rachel to spy on Briana when she cleans her house. He offers to pay her for the information and he’s cute, so she can’t resist, even though she knows it’s wrong to snoop and that her best friend, Marisol, will disapprove.

Rachel learns that cleaning other people’s houses is very educational; she learns that a pair of twins keep dirty magazines in their closets, that Briana’s closet is filled with juicy dirt and that a shy guy is a budding movie maker. Then she becomes aware that one of the popular girls actually has some pretty difficult issues to work through.  Ultimately, Rachel realizes that not everything can be swept under the carpeting (and that’s okay sometimes). She just needs to understand that she needs to believe in herself, take a stand and accept help from new and old friends.

THE DIRT DIARY is a fun book. It is just hilarious some of the dirt Rachel can dig up on people. The poor principal has the entire school giggling and looking after him as he passes in the hall. The rich, snotty girl has more than one secret that would be worth a little extra cash to keep quiet. The book also shows the vulnerabilities of the age group. Some of the other students have really big issues that they deal with like the death of a parent, divorce and feeling insecure.  Anna Staniszewski knows how to dig into the inner lives of eighth graders in both a humorous and engaging way.

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell on January 13, 2014

The Dirt Diary
(The Dirt Diary #1)
by Anna Staniszewski

  • Publication Date: January 7, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
  • ISBN-10: 1402286368
  • ISBN-13: 9781402286360