Review: The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski

the dirt diary

The Dirt Diary
by Anna Staniszewski
Publication date: January 7th 2014
by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Category: Middle Grade (10 – 14)
Genre: Contemporary
Source: eARC from NetGalley

My Rating:

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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…

~My Thoughts~

Rachel is an awkward 8th grader with only one real friend, Marisol. Her parents just recently split up; her dad got this crazy idea to move to Florida and start a scuba diving business out of nowhere. Can you say mid-life crisis? Rachel isn’t ready to give up on her parents, she wants her dad to snap out of it and come back to them. Her mom is driving her crazy with her recently developed OCD tendencies to cope with her loss. Rachel gets this bright idea to buy a plane ticket so she can visit her dad over the summer and convince him to come back. She thinks that once he sees her, he’ll change his mind and come back. Rachel took $300 out of her college fund to pay for the ticket and needs to figure out a way to put the money back before her mom finds out. She ends up agreeing to clean houses with her mom, a side job her mom took on to help pay the bills. While Rachel is embarrassed at first, cleaning the houses of the same popular people who make fun of her in school, she realizes that she can do more than clean dirt, she can dig it up!

The Dirt Diary is a super cute, fun story that I read in one evening. It’s not a mind-blowing book, by any means, but for what it is — a middle grade contemporary — I really enjoyed it. Rachel made me laugh out loud at times and feel super uncomfortable for her at others. The author really did a great job creating a believable setting for this book. This story touches on some very real issues of adolescence, but in a way that doesn’t ovewhelm. There were some pretty compromising moments for Rachel during the story that made me cringe… and definitely not miss primary school!

Being a lover of the culinary arts, I was thrilled that Rachel had a passion for baking and a fascination with the show Pastry Wars. Yup, there was more to just digging in the dirt to this book. Her best friend, Marisol, had dreams of being a fashion designer also, which reminded me how crafty I am not, but wish I was.

If you’re looking for a fast, entertaining read I recommend picking up a copy of The Dirt Diary! It’s highly enjoyable for middle grade children all the way up to.. well, obviously my age, which I won’t divulge at this time. 😉

Oh, before I go.. you MUST check out the book trailer. It’s not like any book trailer I’ve seen before! Hehe

~About the Author~

Anna S

Anna Staniszewski lives and works in the Boston area. She’s the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and the upcoming Dirt Diaries series–-both published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky–-as well as the occasional dinosaur/robot picture book. You can visit Anna at or follow her on Twitter at

Anna’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Wife, homeschooling mom, YA author of paranormal, dark fantasy, and horror, huge fan of the Oxford comma, book blogger, crafter, baker of sweet things, lover of the culinary arts, self-appointed zombie slayer.