Summary: Everybody has secrets. Walking in on her boyfriend and best friend about to kiss is a secret that devastates Betsy Wickwire, especially when it becomes clear the secret wasn’t really a secret to anyone but her. Inconsolable and trying to maintain a shred of dignity, Betsy decides that the only thing to be done is to make some money and move far away as fast as possible. An encounter with Delores, a fellow student from school, is a game-changer as Delores immediately jumps on board with Betsy’s idea to be a house cleaner and creates a cleaning business for the two of them. Their new job provides hilarious encounters and new friendships, but mostly it reminds Betsy that she is not the only one with secrets.
Number of Pages: 324
Age Range: 14-16
Review: An enjoyable, lighter read, Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret tackles the problem of rebuilding yourself after an unexpected break up. Betsy moves from depression to obsession to freedom and independence, largely thanks to Delores’ determined spirit. I was surprised that a popular girl would have the name Betsy (the first time I read this book it really threw me), but the friendship that Grant develops between Betsy and Delores was more poignant the second time around. I was able to see more clearly how large a role Delores plays in Betsy’s recovery and that gave me a new appreciation for the way Betsy pays her back.
I’ve seen Tumblr posts commenting that fictional guys are better than real guys and I have to say Murdoch is one of the characters that comment is talking about. Murdoch is shy, kind, gentle but also persistent. His entrance into the book is quite memorable and I loved reading about him and his artistic ability. I always felt like he and Delores were like brother and sister, as opposed to Delores being his romantic interest. Also, kudos to Grant for her subtle development of Betsy’s feelings for Murdoch. It started with a stray thought or two, but grew into interest and then love.
Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret has humour and heart, and I’d recommend it to teen fans of the romance genre because it does have romance, but it also has positive female role models who are not just endlessly thinking about and pursuing guys. When Murdoch and Betsy do start going out, their relationship is respectful and sweet but I wouldn’t say it’s the main focus of the book.
One thing did surprise me though. After a betrayal like the one Betsy experienced, from her boyfriend and her best friend, I didn’t understand why there was so little anger on Betsy’s part. She sinks into depression with no thought to attempting revenge then or later, and there is no showdown scene between her and Carly. Perhaps though, Betsy is just more of a grown-up than I am.
“She found herself running again. She couldn’t see for the tears but for everything else was in sharp focus. She knew she’d lost a sandal. She knew her mascara was all over her face. She was even aware enough at some level to realize that her howling sounded a lot like the animatronic dinosaur she’d seen on a junior high school trip to the Museum of Natural History.” – from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 4
“And suddenly I was me again. Wanting something. Going for it. Knowing I could get it. I didn’t care that the brush was splattering me with Tilex and water and miscellaneous other gross and possibly toxic stuff. I was a dog and this was my bone.” – Betsy from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 67
“He kept his cigarette in the side of his mouth and his eyes squinted up against the smoke. I got the impression he was doing it for our benefit. It kind of grossed me out. I felt quite strongly that someone decrepit shouldn’t flirt.” – Betsy from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 103
“I stood on the front lawn with my arms dangling and my head back and breathed in the cool clean air. It felt almost liquid against my sticky skin. I was suddenly aware of my face and my eyebrows and the baby-fine hair on my lower arms.
I was suddenly aware, period. It was like I was picking up signals from the outside world again. It felt good.” – Betsy from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 193
“Some stuff was too big. Some stuff was out of style. Most stuff reminded me of things I’d rather forget. It was as if instead of saying Juicy or Nike, the labels read Sucker or Naive or How could I have been so stupid?” – Betsy from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 198
“Murdoch had told me about his dad, about dropping out of engineering school, about wanting to be a rock star when he died. What was he not telling me? He had secrets too.
That didn’t scare me. It didn’t even give me that shimmery feeling. It made my stomach flip the same way it did when I thought about kissing him. I wanted to know what his secrets were and I wanted to be brave enough to tell him mine. It would be fun. It would be more than that.” – Betsy from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 283
“I couldn’t even say the words to myself. I knew I was wrong.
Delores had only taken junk – or at least only meant to take junk. I’d been looking for something valuable. I’d wanted people’s secrets. I’d wanted proof that I was okay. I needed to know that all these people were just as defective as I was.
Delores and I had both only taken what we needed to make ourselves feel better.” – Betsy from Betsy Wickwire’s Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant, page 313