Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas (2014)

Chloe loves to make lists. On Christmas Eve, when she heads to work at the grocery store, she has in mind her to do list, which includes resolutions to talk to at least three coworkers and learn something new about them, and to give Tyson, her crush, a ride home. Throughout her hectic shift, Chloe also worries about her blood sugar. As a "brittle" Type I diabetic, she can't afford to skip meals or miss out on checking her blood sugar levels at regular intervals. When it is discovered that a serious amount of money has been stolen from a charity donation box, Chloe is kept after hours along with her five other teen coworkers, all of whom are suspects in the theft. As the time before the cops arrive drags on, Chloe realizes that she will soon be in a real medical emergency if she does not enlist the help of her unlikely companions. In the meantime, she also tries to solve the mystery so that she and her new friends can make it home in time for Christmas.

This is the perfect YA read for the Christmas season. It includes a little bit of everything - the anticipation everyone feels on the night before a major holiday, the urgency of last-minute shopping, the promise of a new crush, a secret medical condition to build up suspense, a bit of mystery, with a surprising culprit, and a fun and quirky setting. Chloe's lists serve to keep the reader apprised of her innermost thoughts, and her awkwardness with her coworkers is something to which all teens can relate. Putting the teens on lock-down in the manager's office is reminiscent of movie favorites like The Breakfast Club and Empire Records, and though it might not be a wholly realistic occurrence, it's the perfect plot device for turning strangers into friends, and it is believable in context.

There are only two problems with this book. One is the cover, which provides absolutely no information about the story whatsoever. The cover seems very middle grade, even though the story is clearly YA, and aside from vague similarities to the cover for The Fault in Our Stars, it is basically unappealing. It's a Christmas book published just before Christmas - would it have been so terrible to give it a festive cover?

The other issue is the "brittle" diabetes. The last fictional character who had this condition was Stacey McGill in the Baby-sitters Club, and the severity of her condition is frequently mocked and questioned by fans of the series. Because diabetes is so much easier to manage nowadays than it used to be, it does make sense that Chloe's condition would have to be "brittle" for the medical events of the story to happen, but it also seems like the same end could have been achieved with a more common problem, like a food allergy or asthma.  By including this rare form of diabetes, the author simply reinforces stereotypes people have about Type 1 diabetes and misses an opportunity to educate the uninitiated about the truth of the condition for most people.

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless is a perfect read-alike for Love and Other Perishable Items as well as other YA workplace stories including How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True, and Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink.

No comments:

Post a Comment