Betsy’s life is officially over: Dumped by her boyfriend, betrayed by her best friend. . . . How is she ever going to show her face again?
Determined to avoid everyone and everything from her previous life, Betsy stumbles into an unusual café and an even more unusual girl. Dolores Morris—a mouthy, green-haired outsider Betsy can’t quite remember from school—talks her into starting a cleaning service. Before she knows it, Betsy is down on her knees, dressed like a dust bunny, scrubbing strangers’ toilets
It’s a long way for the most popular girl in school to have fallen. But Betsy finds comfort in the wine bottles and prescriptions and other dirty secrets she finds hidden in her clients’ homes. She also finds love with a client’s son, friendship with Dolores and a liberated sense of herself. Her new life soon falls apart, though, when valuables begin to go missing from some of the homes she and Dolores have been cleaning. Betsy discovers the hard way that not all dirty secrets can just be swept under the rug.
About the author
VICKI GRANT left her career in advertising and television to write her first novel, The Puppet Wrangler, in 2004. She has written many books for young readers, including Not Suitable For Family Viewing, winner of the Red Maple Award, Quid Pro Quo, winner of the Author Ellis Award for Best Juvenile Crime Fiction, Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret, Pig Boy and B Negative. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty SecretOne minute, Betsy Wickwire is a popular teen on the honour roll and the basketball team at her Halifax high school, with a gorgeous boyfriend and a best friend she trusts. The next minute, she’s walking in on the boyfriend and the friend about to kiss.
Betsy’s world promptly falls apart. She quits her job. Depression hits, and it hits hard. She’s convinced that her only chance of getting through the pain would be to scrap her university plans and earn enough money to leave Halifax and make a new start. But how can Betsy do that with no job? Could she bring herself to clean other people’s houses? She’s mulling this over when she encounters Meghan, a girl she first crossed paths with in Grade 10 Drama. Meghan now calls herself Delores, has green hair and – although Betsy wants nothing more than to get rid of Delores – almost before Betsy knows what’s happening, Delores has made herself a partner in their little cleaning business.
In the beginning, Betsy is a half-hearted cleaning lady. All she wants is to get her old life (i.e., her boyfriend Nick) back. But soon, she is Delores’ reluctant friend. Then, she is not so reluctant, and her zest for life creeps back. Nick doesn’t look so good compared to Murdoch – the new friend Betsy shares with Delores. Betsy even begins loving her job, finding cleaning therapeutic and finding comfort in the fact that each of her clients has secrets. But when Betsy discovers that Delores has secrets that affect Betsy herself and the precious new start she’s found, can their friendship survive?
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret is not crime fiction for teens. It is not a mystery, but it certainly is mysterious. Vicki Grant’s characters jump off the page. She shows an uncanny understanding of young people’s worries and emotions, the depression they often face, the self-esteem that frequently eludes them, and the acceptance they need most. This multi-layered novel is at once humorous, captivating and realistic – a striking read.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.