Katie Reads: The Dirt Diary


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 smelly 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…

The plot summary really missed the mark in explaining what this book is about. The summary makes it sound like Rachel has already been stealing and is being forced to work to make up the money. In fact, Rachel has not been caught and has volunteered to work for her mom’s new cleaning business because she wants to repay the money before her mom notices it is gone. Also, while some of the secrets Rachel comes across do make an impact, the story at its core is more about Rachel dealing with the sudden abandonment of her father.

It’s too bad that aspect isn’t emphasized because that’s what set this book apart for me. This was a fairly predictable middle school read, but that element was unique and was handled really well. Rachel’s character also comes across as frivolous on the back cover, but that’s not at all how she is in the story. Rachel doesn’t take the money to buy a new dress or something frivolous like that, she takes the money to buy a plane ticket to where her father is because she is hoping that she’ll be able to convince him to come home. It doesn’t justify stealing, but it does make Rachel’s actions understandable and complex.

A fun part of the book for me was Rachel’s love of baking. Every time the author described a new treat Rachel was whipping up in preparation for the bake sale competition, my mouth started watering.

Mostly predictable, but still a fun light read with a little extra meat to it (thanks to the abandonment plot line). The thrift store had the sequels as well and I wish I had grabbed them – this is a nice addition to my classroom library and includes a positive Asian-American protagonist!

Stay magical readers!


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