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Dirty Laundry
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Dirty Laundry

3.5 10
by Daniel Ehrenhaft

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the school:

The Winchester School of the Arts, nicknamed "The Laundromat" because it's where better schools send their "dirty laundry." Get kicked out of Exeter, Hotchkiss, or Choate? End up at Winchester.

the girl:

Carli, a gorgeous pigtailed Hollywood actress going


the school:

The Winchester School of the Arts, nicknamed "The Laundromat" because it's where better schools send their "dirty laundry." Get kicked out of Exeter, Hotchkiss, or Choate? End up at Winchester.

the girl:

Carli, a gorgeous pigtailed Hollywood actress going undercover at Winchester to research her role.

the boy:

Fun (short for Fellini Udall Newport), an embittered senior and graffiti artist who was almost expelled—until his dad (and a lot of money) convinced the headmaster to let him work off his crime as Carli's assistant.

the problem:

Beautiful, talented senior Darcy Novak, one of the least screwed-up people at Winchester, has disappeared.

As Carli and Fun discover each other's hidden talents, there's a villain setting them up. Can they save Darcy—and themselves—or will they wash out?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
Carli has just been cast in a great role in an upcoming teen drama, and she is performing some in-depth research to get a feel for her character. As a part of this research she has matriculated to the Winchester School of Arts. This school, however, has a pretty bad reputation. Many consider it the worst boarding school on the East Coast. This is, in part, because it is the place where troubled students go when no one else will take them, but Carli will not be alone while she is at boarding school. Fun is a Senior at Winchester and is one of the few people who knows Carli's true identity, but before Carli's undercover work can begin, a young student named Darcy disappears from Winchester. It is up to Carli and Fun to discover what happened to her. This book firmly grasps the idea of teen angst and mystery. It delivers with both, and readers cannot help but like Fun and his sense of humor. This may not be a classroom book, but it would work as a good, quick read at home. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
VOYA - Amanda MacGregor
Up-and-coming actress Carli Gemz, an unassuming self-described "dork," enrolls undercover at the Winchester School of the Arts boarding school in Massachusetts to prepare for her role as Sheila Smith, the bad girl in the new television series Private Nights. The only person who knows her real identity is Fellini Udall Newport (or Fun), the son of the show's producer. Upon arrival, Carli discovers the ramshackle Winchester, populated by troublemakers and freaks, has the reputation for being the place where other schools send their "dirty laundry." When Carli learns that a student has gone missing, each of the already shady students seems like a suspect. She and Fun decide to investigate, and Carli finds Winchester much more exciting than she had anticipated. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal

Gr 8-10

Teen actress Carli Gemz is a self-proclaimed dork preparing for a role in Private Nights -a TV show about scandalous boarding school teens-by posing as Sheila Smith at Winchester School of the Arts, the "dirty laundry" of boarding schools. When model senior Darcy Novak goes missing, do-gooder Carli decides to find her. The teen's disappearance is the tip of the iceberg as far as Winchester scandals go. The school is falling apart and desperately needs money, so Headmaster Stanton tolerates abuse from a wealthy donor's son while accepting a "Faustian bargain" from Fellini "Fun" Udall Newport's father (Carli's boss) to keep the boy in school. The catch is that Fun must serve as Carli's assistant. Their prime suspect is Hilton James, aka Nails, Fun's best friend and dormmate, yet the cast of misfit suspects is endless: there's Carli's roommate Miranda, relocated to Winchester for sleeping with her gym teacher; Sarah, a snarky goth DJ/journalist extraordinaire; her sidekick Mary Fishman, an aspiring author who is always with her diary and pen in hands; and Kirk Bishop, Darcy's current boyfriend. Mostly told in alternating chapters between Fun and Carli, the plot does slow in the middle, which causes readers to question its plausibility; nevertheless, this is a fun read, and the clever voices and engaging dialogue are enough to pull most readers through to the end.-Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ

Kirkus Reviews
When graffiti artist Fun is threatened with expulsion from Winchester, the last option for "dirty laundry" white-collar teens kicked out of every other East Coast school, he strikes a deal with the headmaster and his TV-producer father: Serve as the personal assistant to undercover actress Carli, who's conducting research for her new teen drama, and he will be allowed to graduate. Meanwhile, popular senior Darcy Novak has gone missing, and conscientious Carli resolves to find her, despite Fun's skepticism. They are assisted by a ragtag assortment of boarding-school dropouts who hinder more than help, and they follow a series of dead-end clues that seem to exist solely for the hipster teens to have something to angst over. Ehrenhaft appears to be trying to strike a darkly comedic Heathers tone with his smug, ironic dialogue, but the attempt falls flat due to shallow characterizations, a convoluted plot and too many red herrings. Though the name Veronica Mars is invoked, neither Carli nor Fun is much of a sleuth, nor is this much of a mystery. (Mystery. 13 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Dirty Laundry

Chapter One

Draft of Headmaster Ezra Stanton's official statement regarding the disappearance of Darcy Novak from the Winchester School of the Arts, as discovered later

Good morning. As all of you know, I am Ezra Stanton, headmaster of the Winchester School of the Arts. I assume you also know why we've gathered in the quad this morning, and why the local authorities are present.

For eight months of the year, our beautiful campus, this oasis of creativity perched on the rugged coast of Massachusetts, is our shared home. [Pause for a sentimental breath] In a sense, we become family. A disruption of that family life affects us all. So I'd like to make a few remarks about the events that took place yesterday. After that, I'll add some thoughts. I'd prefer not to speculate. My remarks will concern what I know. My thoughts, however, will concern the institution I've proudly and humbly served for over twenty years. [Somber audience eye contact]

I'd also like to mention that these proceedings are being broad-cast by our own student-run radio station, WWWW. While I initially objected, and still have some reservations, I laud WWWW's commitment to openness and transparency. Together, we stand united in concern for one of our own.

I implore anyone listening to help if you have any pertinent information.

Darcy Novak, a senior of ours, is missing. Darcy is the only child of Dr. Mitchell and Judy Novak of Westport, Connecticut. She is seventeen, five feet seven inches tall, and one hundred thirty pounds. Her hair is long and naturally blond; her eyes, blue. The Novaks asked me to mention that Darcy is a brilliant actress, and that she has a lovely singing voice. I think all of us who know her would vouch personally for that description.

[Sad sigh] As head counselor for Bishop House, a seniors-only girls' dormitory, Darcy is responsible for ensuring that her housemates are in their rooms and accounted for by ten p.m. She has never been anything but reliable. Her outstanding academic record, her commitment to Winchester, her genuine love of others...as well as impersonating others, myself included [melancholy laugh]...has made her a natural leader. When she requested the privilege to serve as Bishop House head counselor last year, she was unanimously confirmed. So when Darcy wasn't present to check in her dorm-mates on the first official night of school, alarm bells sounded.

For the record: Darcy Novak was last seen by a fellow student, Hilton James, at approximately three p.m. yesterday. According to Hilton, she was en route to the school's laundry facility. Hilton confessed to me late last night that he and Darcy had an argument. I've since learned that he and Darcy had an intimate relationship last spring.

Now for my thoughts: I'm aware Winchester has its critics. I could address the unfortunate moniker that has been snobbishly foisted upon us: that we're the "laundromat" of preparatory schools, that we're the last refuge for cast-offs, troublemakers, and miscreants . . . how high society's dirty laundry somehow always finds its way to our doorstep. I could even address the bitter irony of this bad joke with regard to the present situation. [Long pause] I won't. Darcy deserves better.

I'm not here to talk reputation or controversy. Nor am I here to shill, fund-raise, or burnish the school's image.

I'm here for Darcy Novak.

Thank you for your attention. I'm happy to take a few questions now.

Dirty Laundry. Copyright © by Daniel Ehrenhaft. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Daniel Ehrenhaft is the author of many books for teens, including the Edgar Award-winning Wessex Papers (under the pseudonym Daniel Parker), Dirty Laundry, and Drawing a Blank.

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Dirty Laundry 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MShell More than 1 year ago
Told in the voices of the main characters, Fun (short for Fellini Udall Newport) and Carli, enter 12th grade at the private but dingy Winchester Academy, notorious as a last resort for troubled teens. Carli is an undercover actress preparing for a new role, and Fun is her director's son. He has attended Winchester for two years now. The mystery begins when Darcy, the most popular senior, disappears the day before school begins. The interaction between the quirky teen characters is humorous and real as they try to discover the truth despite ineffective adults, including teachers, the head master, and the police. After a few weeks and many puzzling situations, the mystery is solved a bit too easily, but overall, this book is a page turner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyable. A story that will stay with me for a long time. Very funny, not too deep, but a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dirty Laundry By Daniel Ehrenhaft Pub. Date: December 2008 3.5 out of 5 stars R - Profanity, Sexual References, Sexual Humor, and Violence Recommended While going undercover to research for her new TV show, Carli least expected to get caught up in a mystery. But when a girl goes missing, Carli can't even think of standing aside. If the cops aren't going to take it seriously, someone else needs too. Fun isn't happy with the arrangement. He doesn't want to baby-sit a Hollywood brat, but if he wants to graduate he has to be Carli's assistant. While Carli creates ideas of her own, Fun can't help but harbor his own suspicions. Neither of them planned to investigate a kidnapping. Neither were they prepared to face the outcome of their snooping. Dirty Laundry was a pretty good book that I hope leads to a possible series, if not sequel. Instead of describing the setting and characters as "bad", I think a more appropriate word is "icky" They thought icky thoughts. They lived in icky rooms. They took part in icky activities. And some people were just icky, both physically and mentally. I believe the author wrote it that way purposefully and it did suit the story plot. I would have preferred it differently, but it worked out well. From the beginning I had the bad guy pegged, but throughout the book I was forced to second-guess myself. The evidence was contradictory and the words sly and deceiving. Dirty Laundry is one of the few books that took a common "problem" and setting, but didn't annoy me with its regularity. The writing format and character voices were sloppy, but just quirky and funny enough to pull it off. I'm hoping Dirty Laundry is just the beginning to a series or at least a planned sequel in the works. Yes, it could do fine as a stand alone but its plot and characters could easily live on in a few more books. That would enable a more gratifying goodbye. Date Reviewed: March 30th, 2009 For more book reviews and book information check out my blog at www.inthecurrent.blogspot.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Carli Gemz is going undercover. She's off to the Winchester School of the Arts to get into character for her upcoming TV series, Private Nights. She will have the son of the creator, Fellini Udall Newport (aka FUN) at her disposal as her personal assistant. Fun has no desire to be the slave to Carli, whom he has to refer to as Sheila Smith, her character's name. Being her assistant is part of the arrangement his father has made with Headmaster Stanton to keep Fun at Winchester. Fun should've been kicked out for his graffiti art around campus. Instead, his girlfriend, Charity, was expelled for getting caught in the male dorm. Life is not fair. Senior year starts out with the news that Darcy Novak, the basic do-gooder of the senior class, has gone missing. Fun's roommate, Nails, used to date Darcy and may be a suspect in her disappearance. Also in question is Darcy's most recent boyfriend, Kirk Bishop. Kirk's family has donated enormous amounts of money to Winchester, and he is able to get away with just about anything. When Fun and Carli meet, they actually form a bond and the two decide to investigate Darcy's disappearance, each for their own reasons. As they stumble through the first part of the school year, the mystery around Darcy grows. More of their acquaintances come under suspect, and the two no longer know who they can trust. Told in alternating voices, Fun and Carli reveal their thoughts to the reader as they try to figure out what happened to Darcy. They both have their own issues to work through, but they come to rely on each other as they days pass and the mystery is no closer to being solved. DIRTY LAUNDRY bounces back and forth between the two characters. At times it was hard to keep track of who was doing the talking, but overall, the story was intriguing. Mr. Ehrenhaft was able to keep the intrigue surrounding Darcy's disappearance cleverly hidden up until the final few pages. Fun and Carli were both creative characters with quirky personalities, but it would be nice to see their characters develop even more in a follow-up story.