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Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless (Czukas)

Top Ten Clues is cute holiday fun! Bonus points for a diverse romance, a diabetic main character, teens who work part-time jobs, and of course, that it’s set on Christmas Eve. A must for every middle and high school library, especially during the holiday season.

AUTHOR: Liz Czukas
SERIES: none
ISBN: 9780062272423
PAGES: 304
SOURCE: Edelweiss
GENRE: contemporary; mystery, romance
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS

SUMMARY: It’s Christmas Eve, and high school student Chloe has to work the 6:30AM shift at GoodFoods Grocery. Working on Christmas Eve sucks, but at least Chloe gets to work with Tyson Scott, her unrequited crush. But when $10,000 goes missing from a charity box, Chloe and her five teen coworkers are the store’s prime suspects. Forced to wait in the store breakroom until the police arrive, Chloe and her coworkers try to figure out who took the money.

IF THIS BOOK WERE MOVIE, IT WOULD BE: The Breakfast Club meets Employee of the Month

REVIEW: So this book is really cute. It definitely has a Breakfast Club vibe with the six teen employees held against their will in a closed grocery store. Each of the six teen characters has an individual personality; even better, the teens seem like normal people who you might actually know. Their dialogue and interactions with each other and store management sound authentic.

I was surprised to discover that the author never worked in a grocery store. She writes in the Acknowledgements that she researched this book by hanging out at a local grocery store and being allowed to tour the employee areas. Her characters and the store and the managers are so realistic that I would have thought Czukas based them on real people.

I also like how Chloe has diabetes and must deal with that frequently throughout the story. Chloe tries hard to keep her diagnosis from defining her or interfering with peer interactions, which I think is absolutely realistic for many diabetic teens. There are not many YA books featuring diabetic characters, so I really appreciate the realistic portrayal of daily life for a diabetic teen. Chloe’s mother constantly worries over Chloe’s diet and exertion, plus Chloe must monitor her blood sugar and watch her sugar intake at all times. Some who read this book will experience diabetes for the first time through Chloe, giving them some background knowledge that could help improve understanding and compassion (see Chloe’s list of “Top Ten Most Annoying Things People Say When They Find Out I Have Diabetes”).

There is a sprinkle of romance, but it is tastefully done. These are teenagers accused of a crime at work–they are not going to be making out or professing their love all over the place.

I love Chloe’s listmaking! I am a lister, too (especially love crossing things OFF a list–what a thrill!). Another plus is that lists help break up the text, which can help bring in reluctant readers.

While there is a mystery, the characters interactions are really what this story is about. I think some readers will see the thief long before the big reveal, but it’s a lot of fun getting there.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Cute and fun with excellent characterizations and light romance.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I will definitely order this, but middle school librarians should be aware of profanity.

READALIKES: Hope Was Here (Bauer); Streetball Crew Book One Sasquatch in the Paint (Abdul-Jabbar); Going Vintage (Leavitt)


  • Overall: 4/5–cute and entertaining
  • Creativity: 5/5–I had a hard time thinking of readalikes!
  • Characters: 5/5–all very distinctive personalities; authentic teen dialogue
  • Engrossing: 3/5–some dull moments in the middle; almost like a “slice of life” story for a little bit
  • Writing: 5/5–love the lists and authentic dialogue
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5–this one has wide appeal
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: medium–2 F-bombs; a handful of sh**
  • Sexuality: mild–some kissing, SPOILER–highlight to see–> sexual harassment
  • Violence: mild–some blood when a girl cuts her hand
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild–a store customer gives teen a partially-drunk bottle of Peach Schnapps and tells her to keep it

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