(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Things can't get much suckier for Chloe. She's stuck working her cashiering job at GoodFoods Market on Christmas Eve, all day long. Not only will she be dealing with cranky customers for hours on end, but—thanks to getting caught in a snowstorm—she'll be doing it while looking like a drowned rat. On the upside, she'll be working with her very hot crush, Tyson Scott; on the downside, drowned rat.
As the day goes on, things go progressively wrong for Chloe, until something truly awful happens: the charity box, into which GoodFoods customers have been putting cash donations all month, is almost empty. An estimated $10,000 is missing. Since no one is fessing up to the crime, the store manager makes the "Younglings"—Chloe, Tyson, and four other teenage cashiers/baggers—stay after closing for questioning. With every extra minute Chloe has to spend in the break room, she grows increasingly frustrated. Not only does she want to get home and enjoy the holiday with her family, but she's worried about her plummeting blood sugar. On top of everything else that's happened, a diabetic coma is definitely not what she needs right now. It's pretty clear to Chloe that the only way out of the mess they're all in is to find out who stole the charity money.
Chloe doesn't know any of her fellow suspects very well, but she has certain suspicions about each of them. The more she gets to know them, however, the more she realizes how wrong she's been to stereotype them. As the Younglings work together to solve the mystery of the stolen money, Chloe makes some startling discoveries and some surprising friendships. Is it possible that a day she thought would be the worst of her life might turn out to be the very best?
You can probably tell from the description of Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas that it's a fun, warm-hearted novel. Just because it's a light read, though, doesn't mean it doesn't have an important message. As Chloe gets to know a group of kids who are diverse in ethnicity, culture, and experience, she realizes the dangers of making broad assumptions about people. Through seeking help with her diabetes, she also learns to trust others with her own secrets. It's the relationships between the characters that stand out in this novel, especially since the charity money thief is fairly obvious from the get-go. Being a Type 1 diabetic myself, I did find some inconsistencies with how Chloe deals with her condition (like, if she's together enough to have a glucometer in her locker, why doesn't she have some glucose tabs stashed in there, too?). Petty issues aside, I enjoyed this engaging holiday novel, which brought back fond memories of working at the BYU Creamery as a college student. Just like Chloe and her co-workers have games they play to pass the time, we had a whole lot of fun with Guess the Major ...
(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (two F-bombs, plus milder invectives) and sexual innuendo