The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski

Standalone. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (Jan. 2014) Netgalley
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...

Rachel's been asked by her mother to help her clean houses in exchange for some monetary compensation. Now being in the 8th grade even with the chance at getting extra cash would stop any kid in their tracks from accepting such a deal. What if someone from class saw her? What if Briana, the most popular girl in her grade as well as her bully, saw her? She'd be more ruined than she already is. Unfortunately for Rachel she has to take the job in hopes to pay off some college money she "borrowed" for a plane ticket to see her father.

The Dirt Diary has more complexity than I thought at first glance. Rachel is dealing with a bully who takes any chance to put her down, a mother who doesn't understand her love of cooking as a career goal, a father who went off the Florida without her, and a boy who she can't possibly like. Her bully situation is kind of outrageous. Her bully finds creative ways to make her miserable. I don't even think I understood why. Because she was different? I can't remember if the book gave any details but you do know that Briana is not a good person. Rachel makes her own set of mistakes but she does it like any kid her age would. 

Rachel can be stubborn; the sort of stubborn that can get in your way if you let it rule you. She also takes a while to see others people's perspectives but she does come around. She loves to bake and experiment with food which is what originally wins me over to her. I really like that she's a typical girl and in her situation she acts rashly but in a way I would expect. She's a believable character that really grows into her own in this story. 

The main thing about this story is Rachel needs to get a certain amount of money before her mother finds out she took it from her college fund account. Her father left on a business venture to Florida and she really wants him to come back. She wants to convince him that they need to be a family again. Meanwhile her mom doesn't seem to care that her husband isn't around. She calls him irresponsible and that frustrates Rachel. Yes, he did something foolish but she believes they need him. Her father understands her and her love of food. He believes in her unlike her mother so it was really sad to see her feel that she didn't have her best supporter with her. 

The Dirt Diary was a very sweet story about growth, family, and friendship. It was about owning up to your mistakes and taking others perspectives into account. Rachel was a very likable and believable character. This was a very nice, light read with great character growth.


  1. I never though that this book hides such depth in it. At first glance it sounds really simple and easy read but it seems it offers so much more. And I love that, when book surprises you like that. I like the sound of Rachel and she seems really easy to connect with. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one. Great review, Adriana :)

    1. Yes, it does have a good amount of depth with her situation with her family. It's really sad really to see Rachel unhappy and face struggles. It really surprised me. It's nice and light in other ways but it's great to have that depth in between.

  2. This sounds like a Disney movie! Fun!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  3. At first glance, I wouldn't think this book had much substance to it. I'm so glad to hear it has hidden depth. I feel like Rachel is really relatable and like Missie commented above, It would be a really cute Disney movie! Great review!

  4. I am glad to hear that this a light read, but that the main character grows. I can easily picture this as a Disney movie! Sounds like this one has a great lesson. Thanks for sharing!


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