"Holy fried onion rings! Fun from beginning to end." Wendy Mass, New York Times bestselling author of 11 Birthdays and The Candymakers on The Dirt Diary
The Gossip File:
• Chandra lets little kids pee in the pool.
• Melody stole $ from the café register.
• Ava isn't who she says she is...
Ava is cool. Ava is confident. Ava is really Rachel Lee who is lying her butt off.
Rachel is visiting her dad at a resort in sunny Florida and is ready for two weeks of relaxing poolside, trips to Disney World and NOT scrubbing toilets. Until her dad's new girlfriend, Ellie, begs Rachel to help out at her short-staffed café. That's when Rachel kinda sorta adopts a new identity to impress the cool, older girls who work there. Ava is everything Rachel wishes she could be. But when the girls ask "Ava" to help add juicy resort gossip to their file, Rachel's not sure what to do...especially when one of the entries is a secret about Ellie.
Praise for award-winning Author Anna Staniszewski's The Dirt Diary series:
"Staniszewski keeps the focus on comedy... Gentle fun laced with equally gentle wisdom." Kirkus
"Rachel's situation and feelings ring true...This realistic read is likely to appeal to middle schoolers and reluctant readers." -School Library Journal
"I LOVED it...sweet, sensitive, and delicious!" Erin Dionne, author of Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies
About the Author
Anna Staniszewski lives outside of Boston with her husband and an adorably crazy dog. She was named the Boston Public Library's 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Discovery Award. When she's not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and not cleaning her house. Visit her at www.annastan.com.
Read an Excerpt
"Rachel, how many rocks did you put in this suitcase?" Mom asks as she drags my luggage out of the back of her dented minivan. Evan, my too-cute-for-words boyfriend, rushes over to help ease the ancient bag to the curb in front of the airport terminal. The suitcase used to belong to Mom, back when she still traveled to places other than Connecticut to visit her sister.
"Here you go, Booger Crap," Evan says as he brings the bag over.
I'm so used to his goofy nickname for me that I don't even roll my eyes this time. Instead, I give him a shy smile and say, "Thanks."
When Evan grins back at me, his green eyes don't twinkle like they usually do. We're both pretending that me being away for two weeks won't be a big deal, but it stinks that I'm leaving when things are finally good between us. Plus, I think he's been gearing up to kiss me all week. But I guess that will have to wait until I get back from visiting my dad in Florida. I seriously doubt my first kiss is going to happen at the airport in front of my mom.
Oh my goldfish. What if that's what Evan's planning? My mom will never let me live that down! My hands are shaking as I grab the suitcase and hurry through the parking garage.
I don't slow down until I get to the airline check-in counter. I've been trying not to freak out about the idea of traveling by myself, but seeing all those strangers with suitcases makes my nerves go into overdrive. With my luck, I'll accidentally wind up in Omaha instead of Orlando.
Mom must notice that my eyes are about to pop out of my head because she puts her hand on my shoulder and asks, "Are you sure about this?"
I push the ball of fear as far down into my stomach as I can. I've been dreaming of going to Disney World with my dad since I was six years old. I can't pass that up just because I'm scared of flying alone. "Yup. Chances are I won't die in a fiery plane crash, right?"
Mom shakes her head. "Is that supposed to be comforting? By the way, I checked the weather report in Florida this morning. It's going to be near a hundred degrees." She wipes her forehead as if the very thought is making her sweat.
"It was ninety here the other day," I point out. "Besides, I'm sure Dad has air-conditioning."
Okay, Florida in the summer might not be ideal, but with school starting in a few weeks, it'll be nice to finally get a vacation. I've spent all summer working for my mom's cleaning business, taking pastry classes, and organizing baking competitions (not to mention pulling pranks on people and making a general mess out of everything). It'll be a relief to hang out by the pool, relax, and spend some much-needed quality time with my dad.
Evan hangs back while my mom and I go check in at the airline counter. We stand in line for a few minutes until the ticket agent waves us forward without even looking up at us.
"What's your destination today?" he drones.
"Omaha," I blurt out, handing over the flight confirmation my mom gave me.
The man finally glances up at me. "What was that?"
"I mean Orlando," I say. "Orlando! Where SeaWorld is with all the whales!"
He raises an eyebrow and then looks at my mom. "And who's this?"
"I'm her mother," Mom jumps in. "I'll be escorting her to the gate, so I believe I'll need a pass to get through security."
The man takes her driver's license and studies it for a long time. Then he looks at Mom again, and I can tell they're coming, the words that always make my stomach clench into a ball.
"She doesn't look like you," he says.
"She's my daughter," Mom says, putting a protective arm around me. "But she looks like her father. He's Korean."
The man nods, but I can tell he's still not sure about us. Does he think my mom stole me or something? Or that because I don't have blond hair like she does, that means we're trying to sneak her into the airport?
Just when I think my stomach might clench itself into a black hole, the man sighs and grabs my suitcase. Then he hands me an enormous badge that I have to wear around my neck. It practically screams UNACCOMPANIED MINOR FLYING ALONE.
Finally, we get to the security checkpoint. That means it's time to say good-bye to Evan.
As I shuffle over to him, it hits me that I haven't thought through this dropping-off-at-the-airport plan. When Evan volunteered to come along, I was excited that he wanted to see me off like a real boyfriend would. I didn't consider the fact that he's going to have to ride all the way back to his house alone with my mom. What on earth will they talk about?
"So," he says. "I guess you have to go now, huh?"
I nod. "They're going to start boarding soon."
"Well." He looks down at his sneakers. "Text me when you land so I know you got there, okay?"
When he glances up at me, I suck in a breath. He has a total "I'm going to kiss you" look on his face. This is really going to happen!
But wait. My mom is right there. Even though she's not looking in my direction-probably to give us some privacy-it still feels like her eyes are lasering into me.
Evan takes a step forward, and I start to panic. What do I do?
"If you need something to talk to my mom about on the way home," I find myself saying, "ask her about music from when she was a kid. She won't stop babbling for hours."
Evan's forehead crinkles. "Okay. Thanks for the tip."
Gah! Why does this have to be so awkward? Why can't I be brave like my best friend Marisol? She'd kiss the guy and be done with it, no matter who was watching.
"Anyway," he adds. "Have fun. I'll-I'll miss you."
My face goes hot. "I'll miss you too," I whisper.
And then I feel it. Evan's face inching toward mine. The scent of peppermint on his breath and the heat off his skin getting closer and closer. My mind goes blank for a second. I can't believe it. My first kiss is really going to happen...in front of my mom!
Just as Evan's lips are about to brush mine, I jerk my head sideways. All Evan's mouth finds is my ear.
Holy poached watermelon. Evan Riley tried to kiss me. And I turned away!
He coughs and steps back. "Um, so have fun," he says, his face flushing bright pink.
"II'm sorry. It's not...with my mom here..."
Why did my stupid head have to flinch? So what if Mom's right there? She's not even watching! This could have been the perfect moment, and I ruined it!
Maybe I can fix it. If I lean in and kiss him, then everything will be okay. Do it, I tell myself.
"Rachel!" Mom calls over her shoulder. "It's time to go."
The moment shatters like a dropped candy cane. Evan and I look at each other for a long second.
"I wish I didn't have to go," I say softly. "I wish..." If only I could be the kind of person who doesn't care what people think, the kind who does what she wants. But I think that Rachel only exists in an alternate universe where everybody eats cupcakes for breakfast and nobody ever has to go to gym class.
"It's okay," Evan says, reaching out his finger to give my nose an affectionate tap. "Two weeks isn't that long."
I know he's right, but it still feels like I took our perfect airport good-bye and turned it on its ear. Literally.
I'm still shaking as my mom and I go through the security checkpoint. When we get to the gate, it's time to say yet another good-bye.
My mom pulls me into a hug and starts sobbing into my hair.
"Mom," I say meekly. I try to think of something comforting to say, but I always freeze up when people get really emotional. "Um, at least there aren't any sharks in Orlando, so you don't have to worry about me being a shark-attack victim, right?"
She lets out a little laugh and pulls away. "It's not even on the water," she says, wiping her eyes.
"Exactly. No sharks. So I'll be fine. Will you be okay?"
Mom nods as she keeps sniffling. "I'll have plenty to keep me busy with apartment hunting and all the new Ladybug Cleaners clients." She leans in and kisses the top of my head. "Don't worry about me. Just have fun with your dad."
I feel bad that Mom is going to be working her buttons off and looking for apartments for us while I'm on vacation, but I couldn't say no when my dad asked me to visit. Besides, it might be months before we actually sell our house, so I doubt Mom will find a new place without me.
"I love you," she adds. "You know, I was about your age when I went on my first trip away from home. I found out so much about myself that summer. The experience showed me what kind of person I could be."
Oh boy. Now Mom's really getting cheesy. "Okay. I should go." I give her one last hug. If we draw this out any longer, I'm going to start crying too.
When Mom finally lets me go, I can't help peering back the way we came, even though Evan must be halfway across the airport by now.
I should feel like I'm at the start of an adventure. I should be excited to finally be leaving home and seeing my dad. But I can't help wishing I could have one more minute in my regular life before I go.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Anonymous is AWESOME! She is the best person in the world because this book gives you good information on the real world. And that is how Anonymous is so cool, awesome, and the bestest friend ever!
Loved the book! It was very exciting at the end. I stilll wanna punch HER though. I do not wanna ruin anything for anyone reading the reviews before the book
This book is so funny! Rachel is a really laid-back fun character who really wants her dad to herself. Ellie really stirs up chaos though, when she asks Rachel to help her at her cafe. I love the fun energetic other workers at the cafe, Taylor and Carrie This book is so exciting and I loved it!!
I NEED MORE DRAMA >_< If you love this then you will love 11 birtdays. If you loved 11 birthdays and never read this book this is for you.
The book was awesome but there needs to be more exciting carectors
Even though it doesn't make sense!!! I totally say thumbs up, it was so out of control with Rachel and the gossip! NEVER BETTER!!!!!!