13 year old Rachel's dad recently moved away. She has been wanting to visit him to convince him to come back, so she borrows $287.22 from her college fund in order to buy a plane ticket. But now, Rachel is in a tough bind because she took the money without her mom's permission. She needs to get together the $287.22 fast. So, cleaning houses with her mom seems like the only option. How bad can it be? Rachel never anticipated that she might run into people she knows, especially not the popular kids that go to her school like Briana and Caitlin. When Briana's boyfriend offers to pay Rachel to spy on her, can she really go through with it ? Or will entering the baking contest at school be the way to make the money she needs?
Rachel was very much in denial about her parents having split up, although at this age that seems very understandable. I appreciated that she really wanted her father to come home and everything to go back to normal. Even going so far as to work for her mom in her new cleaning business to fund her trip. Especially after she found out who's houses she would be cleaning. I loved that Rachel was passionate about cooking and especially enjoyed reading about the various brownie recipes she was trying out. I liked how she kept a cooking journal filled with recipes that later became her "dirt diary." Some of her observations of fellow students were quite humorous. I did have a minor issue with the use of goofy swear words like "holy fried onion rings and booger crap." They just didn't seem to work for me. What did stand out for me was how Rachel transitioned from this shy girl to being able to stand up for herself and feel more comfortable in her skin. Overall this was a very quick read and I think middle grade girls might identify with Rachel's feelings of wanting to be liked and noticed.
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