Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas (website | twitter)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: grocery store, Christmas Eve, theft, teenage diabetic
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: Chloe’s Christmas Eve is spent as a cashier in GoodFoods, the supermarket where she works, trying to work up the courage to talk to the boy she likes, learn something new about a co-worker, and desperately trying not to forget to bring home her mother’s ham.
We’re a little more laid back with our reviews this month, but there are exceptions to every rule, of course. Especially because Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless comes out in a few days and the entire book takes place on Christmas Eve. Oh, and did I mention I really, really enjoyed it?
Chloe is a categorizer, a list-maker, an observer. She’s just moved to her new town and she’d really like to make friends. The list she makes on Christmas Eve is as much a to-do as it is a challenge. She can’t forget her mother’s ham when her shift is over, but she’d also like to speak to the boy she’s been crushing on, Tyson, and learn something new about one of her GoodFoods grocery store co-workers, too. (Bonus points: Chloe is a fair-skinned, red-head and Tyson is a black guy. Yippie for some diversity!) Unpredictably, the donation money that GoodFoods has been collecting is stolen. Chloe and her teenage co-workers find themselves in grocery store lockdown in the break room because they’ve been targeted as suspects and the police have to arrive to begin an investigation.
It’s rare to read a book that takes place over the course of a single day; to make the story work and feel believable, the pacing has to be flawless. And Czukas really nailed it. I was swept up in the mundane duties of working in a grocery store (that I really found quite fascinating) — how each job operates, how good Chloe is as a checker but how terrible Micah is, and how they have a running list of the oddest shoppers ever. (I must admit I felt a little outted when I read about mom’s going in without makeup; uh, guilty as charged.) But aside from Chloe’s actual job, there’s this great mystery of what really happened to the thousands of dollars gone missing. Who really stole it?
Chloe wants to heroically solve the crime, but there’s also this nice minor story of her being a diabetic and what each day is like for her. (First time reading about a teenage diabetic!) There’s all of this tension and chaos because last minute shoppers have flooded GoodFoods, the money has been stolen, and Chloe’s unable to focus on taking care of herself and checking her insulin levels. Ultimately, the story has such a simple setting, but the timeline is intermingled with these great heart-to-heart moments, reality, and a nice helping of a wintery, icy setting to make you want to sip hot chocolate and curl up with this book from cover to cover.