Author: Vicki Grant
Book Source: personal collection
What do you do when you catch your boyfriend and your best friend kissing? If you're Betsy Wickwire, you run. And then you do your best to disappear. You quit your job, destroy your cell phone, and actively avoid any possibility of running into the people who must have known about Nick and Carly, but never told you. And the whole time, you feel like a completely pathetic, idiot loser.
Dolores has green hair, eclectic fashion sense, and no qualms about speaking her mind. Or pushing people around. Before Betsy knows it, she's half of a housecleaning business - the half that gags at the sight of hair clogs and polishes shower tiles with a toothbrush. And steals from her clients. Not their possessions, but their secrets: the cracks and flaws and addictions they keep hidden from their families and the world. The only thing that makes Betsy feel better about her train-wreck of a life is knowing that, underneath their shiny, polished surfaces, other people have problems too.
Everybody has a secret. Even Dolores.
One of the things I love about this book is that Grant so clearly gets what it's like to be a teenager. Betsy's response to her friends' betrayal, and the destruction of her plans for the future, is not always logical or productive, but it's dead on. Grant delicately and believably portrays Betsy's changing priorities and her growing understanding of herself and the people around her.
It's a process that, as in real life, takes some time. At first, Betsy tolerates Dolores, rather than really seeing her. In the first half of the book, I loved the way Grant allows the reader to know Dolores better than Betsy does, and to contrast her behavior and intentions with those of Carly, Betsy's former best friend. My favorite example of this (one of my favorite scenes in the whole book) is on pages 157-158. Betsy's waiting to catch a covert glimpse of Nick when Dolores hijacks her on cleaning business:
I was trapped. It was too late to run. There was nowhere to go. If he hadn't spotted me yet, he would, and then I would die.Grant carries this balance of comedy and tragedy throughout the entire book - even when Dolores' dirty secret is finally revealed.
I would die in my dirty old pink T-shirt and greasy hair.
Dolores was saying something about the Rau-Chaplins and their mudroom. I was trying to nod or at least not cry. I was tensing all my muscles, my brain, my heart, but I couldn't stop myself from shaking. It was like waiting for the firing squad to shoot.
And then, suddenly, on top of everything, Dolores started jumping up and down, all excited about something. What was she saying? Why was she talking so loud? Could she possibly make this any worse?
If I'd had an motor control at all, I would have kicked her, but I couldn't. I had to just stand there waiting for the guns to go off.
"You're kidding! He's taking you to New York?"
I could hear Nick doing stretches behind me, panting. My skin had gone pebbly with goosebumps. My ears were ringing. Had he noticed me yet? Had he even looked?
"Your parents will crap! Seriously. Do they know he's twenty-five?"
Dolores was looking straight at me, making all these exaggerated expressions. She was like a host on a pre-school program, acting out the word surprised.
"You mean, they don't care? Just because he's a surgeon? Or because he's so rich?"
Dolores took me by the arm. "Yeah. You're right. We better get going. You've got to do your hair, get out of your costume an be at the airport by six."
Recommended to fans of Meg Cabot, Eileen Cook, and Sarah Dessen.
For more information on Vicki Grant and her books, check out her website or her interview here at Ten Stories Up.