Cleaning Up

Groundwood. Apr. 2023. 208p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781773068060.
Gr 9 Up–A self-sufficient young Canadian woman finds herself faced with an unexpected challenge when she discovers the diary of a mysterious peer. Jess Darling’s father is susceptible to alcoholic binges, but glimpses of his love for her prove that he’s at least the parent who stayed. He trusts her even though she knows that he’s unreliable, making for an imbalanced relationship that forces her to be the grown-up. Amidst poverty and near-homelessness, she’s strong and independent: she rides her bike to work, declines alcohol in peer settings, and survives, stubbornly alone. On better days she’s a planner and a doer, saving money for college, and dreaming of a career she decided upon in third grade, when a class gardening project taught her to believe in growing things. She’s an expert on local flowers in her native Ontario, Canada, and an artist, drafting garden plans for clients upon request. When her dad disappoints her, however, she retreats into her own head, where lurk her age-appropriate but immature misconceptions about the world. She assumes that nobody living in homes as lavish as the ones she works in, for example, could be unhappy. In one of them, the discovery of the wrecked bedroom of a mysteriously absent teen daughter—and the girl’s diary—upsets Jess’s firm resolve to mind her own business. Fortunately, that grade schoolteacher is still around to remind Jess of the resilient, trustworthy young woman she’s becoming, and still can be.
VERDICT Strongly recommended for YA collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing