Staniszweski, Anna. The Dirt Diary
January 7th 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Nominated for the Cybils by anonymonkey.
Rachel's mother has taken a lot of jobs cleaning the houses of Rachel's classmates in the wake of Rachel's father's departure to Florida to "follow his bliss". The family had struggled previously, but now Rachel and her mother are in danger of losing their house. When Rachel ends up helping to clean the "mean queen" Briana's room, as well as Brianna's best friend, Caitlin. Brianna's boyfriend, Steve, asks Rachel to spy on her for him, and Rachel feels awkward about it, because she thinks that Evan, Brianna's brother, is really nice. Things get complicated when her mother starts flirting with the assistant principal at her school, and she has a typical falling out with her best friend, Marisol. Rachel also makes an uneasy friendship with the quiet Andrew, who is working on a zombie toy movie. There's a big dance coming up, but Rachel's main concern is getting enough money to go to Florida to visit her father. When another student finds all these details in Rachel's "Dirt Diary" notebook, can Rachel survive the humiliation? A sequel, The Prank List, came out in July 2014, and The Gossip File comes out in January 2015.
Strengths: I would have adored this in middle school-- it reads sort of like Betty Miles' Just the Beginning (1976), which I may still own! Very true to life with the different alignment of friends and crushes. Even the storyline about the father leaving will resonate with many middle school students.
Weaknesses: There was a lot going on in this book, but I will buy a copy if I can find a prebind. Paperbacks just don't hold up in my library.
#WeNeedDiverseBooks note: Rachel is half Korean, but that is only briefly mentioned. Do love the pictures of her on the covers! She looks a lot like one of my students!