Title: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless
Author: Liz Czukas
Rating: 3-3.5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day
5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market
4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi
3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm
2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)
1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000
Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.
Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is such an adorable, quick read, I can’t imagine anyone could ever regret picking it up. It’s about a girl, Chloe, who has an easier time making lists and being stuck inside her own head than making friends and connecting with others. She also has a form of diabetes, which she keeps from most people because she doesn’t want them to treat her any differently. I’m now convinced that Liz Czukas writes the best narrators, because I fell in love with Heart’s voice in Ask Again Later, and the same happened with Chloe. She is witty, a bit shy, clever, and totally engaging. I could have read her voice for hours and hours. I also think she experiences such tremendous growth in this book, realizing that her preconceived notions about others are just as misplaced as those about her. The story takes place entirely on Christmas Eve, perfect for the type of message and group dynamic the author is going for, and it’s set within the walls of Chloe’s workplace, her local grocery store. When a large sum of charity money goes missing, Chloe and her fellow young co-workers are held at the store until the thief is found. This sets the stage for Chloe to finally interact with her crush – Tyson – and befriend the co-workers she’s been too shy to approach in the past.
Top Ten Clues You’ll Want To Read This Book:
1. You like The Breakfast Club movie.
*It’s an easy comparison to make. Five characters who couldn’t be more different are stuck together until they’re released by the higher-ups. Sure they can get along okay, but what do they really know about each other beyond the stereotypes and what their appearances suggest? Even though this is a tale as old as time, so-to-speak, it’s still an incredibly important message for today’s teens, about looking beneath the surface and not judging others before knowing them. I love how Chloe and her co-workers slowly get to know one another, whether it’s having surprisingly serious discussions in the break room or completely goofing off around the grocery store. By the end of the night, the can actually call themselves friends, and it’s awesome.
2. You like books with a diverse cast of characters.
*Seriously, so many different personalities and backgrounds in this group. There’s of course Chloe, a shy red-head and book nerd who also has diabetes. Tyson, her crush, is African American, and her co-worker, Zaina, is from the Middle East. Then there’s Micah, the home school kid who is super intelligent and sweet, and Gabe, the rich and athletic one who will surprise you later on. My favorite, though, is Sammie. Having been in foster care, she’s rough around the edges and likes to dress like a tomboy, but don’t let her sharp exterior fool you. That girl nearly broke my heart. The best part of the book is seeing these characters open up and reveal themselves. It’s not an easy thing for teenagers to do, and their individual “confessions” tugged on my heart strings.
3. You make lists. All the time.
*I could totally relate to Chloe because I am such a list-maker. If I ever feel overwhelmed, I make lists. If I’m feeling stress or confused, I make lists. If I’m going shopping, I make lists. There’s something about that type of organization that calms me. I’m not as bad as Chloe, but it made it easier to connect with her.
4. You find light-hearted, fluffy books enjoyable to read.
*This book is fluff personified, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Enough said.
5. You like a cute romance that doesn’t dominate the plot.
*So, this is actually the main reason I didn’t rate the book higher. I have to admit, I was expecting a much higher swoon factor! Ask Again Later has one of my favorite ships this year, but there are so few sweet interactions between Tyson and Chloe. I needed more! But if you like just a small dose of romance, that’s what you’ll get here.
6. You’ve always wanted to be pushed around in a grocery cart by your crush.
*Don’t deny it.
7. You’ve always wanted to have a race in an empty grocery store.
*See number 6. These kids get into quite a few shenanigans, and it’s awesome fun.
8. You like holiday stories.
*The book is set during Christmas Eve, and while the holiday isn’t hugely important to the plot, it still goes along nicely with the overall message.
9. You like characters and relationships that develop throughout the book.
*I love it when characters take me by surprise, and that’s what happens here. None of them are the same people the reader (and Chloe) thinks they are at the beginning of the book, and it’s wonderful to see our perception of them change. There were two or three characters I didn’t care for at first, but by the end I would have called them friend right alongside Chloe.
10. A small side of mystery and crime-solving never hurts.
*You may be able to figure out “who done it” really early, but it’s a fun subplot and brings everything together at the end.
It’s true that I didn’t love this like I did Ask Again Later, and it’s hard for me not to compare since I consider the latter one of my favorite debuts. Top Ten Clues has the same cutesy fluffiness that I will always devour like cotton candy, but I missed a heavier romantic element. Ya’ll know how much I like my swoon. Still, it’s such a fun, entertaining book, and the characters are diverse, equally likable, and have their own distinct personalities and complexity. The things those kids get up to… I definitely recommend this one if you have a couple of hours to spare and are in the mood for a feel good story!
***Special thanks to Katie @ Polished Page Turners for lending me her ARC copy!***