I am thrilled to have The Dirt Diary Blog Tour stopping by today! You can read my review of this middle-grade contemporary and check out my interview with the author...
The Dirt Diary
by Anna Staniszweski
Eighth grade never smelled so bad.
Rachel Lee didn’t think anything could be worse than her parents splitting up. She was wrong. Working for her mom’s new house-cleaning business puts Rachel in the dirty bathrooms of the most popular kids in the eighth grade. Which does not help her already loser-ish reputation. But her new job has surprising perks: enough dirt on the in-crowd to fill up her (until recently) boring diary. She never intended to reveal her secrets, but when the hottest guy in school pays her to spy on his girlfriend Rachel decides to get her hands dirty.
Read the first chapter here
WATCH THE TRAILER
I received a galley of this title in exchange for an honest review
Anna Staniszewski’s middle-grade contemp, The Dirt Diary, is a super cute read with a fun, relatable story and awkwardly charming heroine. Eighth-grader Rachel is not having a great last year of middle-school. The popular girls at school torment her, her crush doesn’t notice her, her dad left to live in Florida, and, in a desperate attempt to get her parents back together, she’s done something not so smart. She’s taken $300 out of her college fund to pay for a plane ticket to Florida and now she must work with with her mom, cleaning houses, to put the money back before her mom finds out. Rachel discovers that this humiliating job allows her to dig up some dirt on her classmates. Dirt that she uses to her advantage when her crush asks Rachel to spy on Briana, the most popular girl in school and Rachel’s nemesis.
The Dirt Diary has such a fun, quirky plot and I really enjoyed it! Staniszewski has created a realistic middle-school environment and placed her heroine in some awkward, yet entertaining situations. Staniszewski knows her middle-grade audience well and this really shines through.The story is infused with a great deal of humor and heart and really put a smile on my face.
The Dirt Diary is an addicting mix of laugh out loud, cringe-worthy, and touching moments. Staniszewski touches on some very real, very tough issues, like bullying; the affects of divorce on kids; grief; and the reality of financial difficulties, and done so in a way that is honest and doesn’t sugarcoat these things, yet the story never feels too heavy or dark. This story offers something for every middle-grade reader to relate to: first crushes, bullying, humiliating parents, BFF fights, and so much more. As someone who has had to clean up after messy people for a living and whose mom was a housekeeper when I was growing up, I could relate so much to Rachel’s situation!
With her quirky, awkward charm and outsider status, I found Rachel to be quite the kindred spirit. I love how real she feels (not too perfect or extraordinary, just wonderfully realistic). This is a character that is easily relatable and impossible not to root for. And I adored Rachel’s mission to bake the most perfect bake-sale worthy brownies!I really loved how Staniszewski didn’t just give us cookie cutter characters, but gave each young character surprising depth. However, I was a bit disappointed in the adult characters, especially Rachel’s parents, and found them hard to like and a little exaggerated.
My Final Thoughts: With irrepressible charm and a story that celebrates the unforgettable quirkiness in us all, The Dirt Diary is a delightful middle-grade read!
Grab a copy of The Dirt Diary and answer the following:
My favorite chapter by far is Chapter 10 in which Rachel finds her crush, Steve Mueller, waiting for her at her locker. The totally inarticulate conversation that follows (in which she accidentally agrees to spy on his girlfriend) makes me smile every time.
My favorite page (page 91) is where we meet Andrew Ivanoff, a painfully shy boy in Rachel’s grade who’s working on a movie about zombie toys.
I love Rachel’s best friend Marisol; she’s fashionable, confident, and not afraid to speak her mind.
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser:
“My mind is finally made up: I’m going to take Steve Mueller up on his offer and spy on Briana. In fact, I can’t wait to dig up her dirty secrets.”
What three secrets would you have hated to be revealed from YOUR middle-school diary?
That I owned enormous purple glasses which I refused to wear because they were hideous.
That I had a crush on the same guy all through middle school—and no, I will not tell you his name!
And that I secretly wished I was one of the cheerleaders instead of a band/theater geek.
In The Dirt Diary, your character Rachel does a bit of spying and snooping on her classmates…who would you love to dig some dirt up on?
Even though middle school was a looong time ago, there were some kids who were pretty mean to me back then. I wouldn’t mind digging up some dirt on them now, just to prove that they’re average people with flaws just like everyone else.
Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at recognizing people’s voices in TV and movie voiceovers.
I’m really embarrassed to admit just how much chocolate I eat.
The last great book I read was The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.
If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Dirt Diary what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
It would have to be a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and crushed Oreos on top. In honor of The Dirt Diary, I’d call it The Cookies and Clean.
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life series, published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Look for the first book in Anna’s next tween series, The Dirt Diary, in January 2014, and visit her at www.annastan.com.