by Anna Staniszewski
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Eighth grader Rachel Lee has a lot going on. Her dad just left, there are bullies at school, and she’s so shy she never talks to anyone, let alone cute boys. But with her dad’s departure, her mom needs more money and sets up a cleaning business. Rachel also needs money to pay back the funds she “borrowed” from her college fund for a secret plane ticket to visit her dad and convince him to come back, so she offers to help her mom out. Which is fine, until she realizes that their clients are some of the families from school – including her main bully (and her bully’s super cute brother). Then she has decisions to make about privacy and spreading rumors.
Rachel manages to resolve her problems fairly neatly while still leaving room for improvement in a second book (and there are currently three books in the series). I love her interest in baking, her adorable awkwardness and clumsiness, and the way she comes around to being able to open up to her mom. I could see super-shy kids also really identifying with her, and she grows in ways that seem realistic while also entertaining. I also liked that a few of the kids, even as eighth graders, had very clear passions that could translate into careers. Staniszewski is also a master of the cliffhanger – I read until late in the night because I couldn’t put it down!