I had already read and liked "Running Out of Time" by Margaret Peterson Haddix, but "Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey" has made her one of my very favourite authors. In Mrs. Dunphrey's class, students are writing in a journal for a school assignment. Mrs. Dunphrey promises she won't read any entries marked "Don't Read." For Tish Bonner that is not enough. Tish's life is falling apart in every way possible, the bills can't be paid and her mother is useless. Tish tests Mrs. Dunphrey by writing rude comments about her and other teachers. When Mrs. Dunphrey passes, only then does Tish start trusting in her journal and her difficult life starts to unfold entry by entry.
Tish's mother acts more like a child than an adult. All she does is sit and cry all day over her abusive husband not being home. In order to keep herself and her eight year old brother, Matt, fed and clothed, Tish Bonner has to work part-time at a restaurant, Burger Boy, with a lecherous boss. She also has to juggle school and her own typical teen problems such as boys and friends. Tish is very skeptical of the teachers and councilors at her school. She doesn't trust them with knowing the truth of how precarious her life is. Her brother Matt is all she has and she can't bear the thought of being separated from him.
One day when Tish returns from work, she finds her mother has left them to go to California to find their father. Now, Tish and Matt are in danger of losing their utilities, house, and even each other.
Throughout this book I kept feeling like I couldn't read fast enough. I was so worried about what would happen to Tish and her brother. Though this book is only 125 pages long, it has definitely made it to my list of books "you must read before you die." It has made my outlook on my life a little less gloomy. I grant it the full five daggers. If I had more, I would gladly give them up.