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Maid for It


About The Book

From the acclaimed author of Roll with It comes a relatable and “heart-wrenching” (Kirkus Reviews) middle grade novel about a girl who, in a desperate bid to keep her family afloat, takes over her mom’s cleaning jobs after an injury prevents her from working.

Now that Franny and her newly sober mom have moved to a cozy apartment above a laundromat, Franny’s looking forward to a life where her biggest excitement is getting top grades in math class. But when Franny’s mom gets injured in a car accident, their fragile life begins to crumble. There’s no way her mom can keep her job cleaning houses, which means she can’t pay the bills. Franny can’t forget what happened the last time her mom was hurt: the pills that were supposed to help became an addiction, until rehab brought them to Mimi’s laundromat and the support group she hosts.

Franny will not let addiction win again, even if she has to blackmail a school rival to help her clean houses. She’ll make the money and keep her mom sober—there’s no other choice. But what happens if this is one problem she can’t solve on her own?


Chapter 1: Everything’s Fine 1 EVERYTHING’S FINE
THE CALL COMES OVER the loudspeaker twenty-three minutes into math class. Not at the end. That’s how I know it’s bad. Teachers protect class time like it’s an endangered species. So when Mrs. Pack squawks over the intercom, “Franny Bishop to the principal’s office. Immediately,” I know it’s emergency-level terrible. I know because I’ve been here before.

Bending under the table to grab my bag is my first mistake. My defenses are down, or more like they’re pointed somewhere else, and Sloan senses it, like any predator in the wilds of middle school. She kicks my old JanSport all the way to the other side of the table, out of reach. I scoot like a crab and grab it. She laughs, but I shake it off. Because I have to. Because whatever’s waiting for me in the office has to be way worse than Sloan. Mistake number two would be letting her get to me when there is so much more badness ahead.

Mr. Jamison, my math teacher, gives me a little salute on the way out. With my table down from three to two, his probability activity isn’t going to work. I realize it before he does, which is a gold star no one but me will ever see. I get an itch of guilt because I’ve ruined the next twenty-two minutes of class for him by leaving, but I keep my feet shuffling forward and out the door because that’s all I can do. Sloan shoots me a mock salute behind Mr. Jamison’s back and a cheery fake smile just before the door shuts.

My shoes squeak too loud on the tile floor. I freeze in the middle of the hallway.

It’s been three years, our longest stretch yet. I thought we were really in the clear, in the clean camp for good. No more pills. We were supposed to be done. She promised.

I had my first walk like this in kindergarten in a different school in a different state. The secretary called me halfway through circle time. I skipped down the yellow halls like I was on my way to recess. I didn’t know to expect anything bad. I should have. Things had been off for a while, but when you’re five, there is no normal other than the one you’ve always known. How was I supposed to know most moms don’t fall asleep in their car in the driveway or space out midsentence over dinner? “Hitting rock bottom” is a stupid saying. There’s always farther to fall.

My stomach pinches, so I crouch down next to the water fountain and dig my planner out of my bag. I flip to today to trace the agenda with my fingertip. The list calms me.

  • Leave bologna sandwich in fridge for Mom w/apple
  • Lunch—Return Meet Me at Harry’s to library and print English paper
  • 1:45 p.m.—English paper due
  • 4:00 p.m.—Help Mimi sort change
  • 4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.—homework until Mom gets home
  • Dinner—Leftovers?

I cross out bologna sandwich with my teal-ink pen. Mom tasks always get teal. I look over the rest and gulp some air until it doesn’t hurt in my chest. Maybe this call to the office isn’t a big deal. Maybe it’s just Mom telling me she picked up another house to clean or another Uber shift and won’t be home until late. Except she usually just tells Mimi or leaves a Post-it on our door with a smiley face and a coupon for pizza. I zip the planner back into my bag and tuck my hair behind my ears—it’s too long. I make a mental note to write a real note to remind Mom to cut it later. Then I stand and order my heart to slow down. It’ll be fine. I’m fine. We’re fine.

But in the office, Mrs. Pack’s face has the crumbly look of wet sand. “Oh, honey,” she says, and something inside me collapses.

I sit by the baseball field as far away from the school and as close to the main road as I can get so Mimi doesn’t have to waste time pulling all the way up to the entrance. It’s almost spring, but the wind doesn’t care. I shiver in my purple coat.

Mimi drives up to the curb in her old blue pickup truck fifteen minutes later. Fourteen minutes and fifty-five seconds of that I filled with a mental slideshow of worst-case scenarios. Mrs. Pack didn’t have much information for me. Only that Mom was in the hospital and Mimi was on her way. Mrs. Pack tucked a Werther’s caramel into my pocket and waved like she’d never see me again. For all I know, she won’t.

Before Mimi can come to a full stop, I swing open the door. She says “Heyya, girlie” as I jump in and we roll onward. Her face is grim, but her hands aren’t shaking on the wheel. I focus on that. Her knuckles are knobby with arthritis, but the big bony hills of them look steady.

We make a left, away from the school and toward the small center of downtown Cedarville. I’ve been here for a while now, and it’s still strange to see the dark windows of the antiques store and the old hardware store butting up against Starbucks and Whole Foods. Mimi hates it. She never comes this way if she can help it. Whenever I ride with her to the bank, she’ll point out a new chain store and mutter “gentrification” like it’s a dirty word. I thought gentrifying meant making something old better again, but Mimi sees it as an invasion of her territory. I don’t know what she expects. Cedarville might be small, but it’s one exit from a truck stop and two from the airport. The world was going to find it eventually.

“What’d that Pack lady tell you?” Mimi asks without taking her eyes off the road.

“Not enough. Car accident. Mom’s in the hospital.” I shove my hands in my pockets. It’s not like I needed all the details, but she didn’t even say the most important thing: Mom’s going to be okay.

Mimi nods. Her short hair, more salt than pepper now, is standing up all over her head. She seems calm, but her hair tells a different story.

“Some idiot turned left on a red. Your mama was on her way to the Ellsworth house for an early start.”

“It wasn’t her fault?” I ask.

Mimi shoots me a sideways look. “No, love. And the doc said she was wearing her seat belt. Good thing.”

Shame smacks me right in the face. I assumed it was Mom’s fault. She’s always asking me to have a little faith in her. I twist the Werther’s candy in my pocket like a worry stone until the wrapper comes off and it sticks to my fingers.

As we pull into visitor parking, I get a good look at the hospital and my heart sinks. It’s red brick and only four or five stories. Anything less than ten floors and you lose all credibility. They might as well have taken her to the vet.

Right before we walk out from under the big gray sky and into the lobby, I shoot a prayer like an arrow. If she’s all right, I say to the higher power Mom is always talking about, I’ll never assume anything’s her fault ever again.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

Maid for It

By Jamie Sumner

About the Book

Franny Bishop worries about a lot of things: if she got all the answers on her math test right; if her bully, Sloan, is going to pick on her that day; or if she’s going to come home to find her mom abusing her prescription drugs again, despite being sober for years. When her mom is in a car accident, resulting in a broken leg, Franny has even more worrying on the horizon. How can her mom get to work if the car is totaled? How can they make money if her mom can’t work? Without money, how can they pay off the hospital bills and their rent, as well as pay for a new car? How can her mom ignore the pain pills the hospital sent her home with?

Franny is determined not to let the accident upset her family’s fragile stability, so she secretly takes over her mom’s cleaning jobs. Meanwhile, she’s counting pills to make sure her mom isn’t slipping back into addiction, and she’s trying to stay on top of extra credit in math class, the only place her life feels truly in control. Franny simply doesn’t have time for friends—not even Noah, who folds cute origami animals for her and doesn’t seem to care what anyone else thinks. But it’s not easy to juggle school and house cleaning, not even when she blackmails her rival Sloan into helping her clean. Will Franny manage to pull off this delicate balancing act and safeguard her mom’s sobriety, or will it all come crashing down again?

Discussion Questions

1. What did you learn in this book about how addiction impacts families and how support systems help people who are recovering from addiction? Were you surprised to learn any of this? Why or why not?

2. After her mom’s surgery, Franny frequently checks her pill bottles to make sure none are missing. Why does Franny have a hard time trusting her mom? Do you think this is fair? Why or why not?

3. Making amends, or apologizing to people for the ways in which you’ve wronged them, is an important step of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. What does it mean to make amends? Why do you think it’s so important for someone who is recovering from addiction? What are other situations in which people might need to make amends? Have you ever had to?

4. Why do you think Franny feels responsible for keeping her mom sober? Do you think this is a fair responsibility to take on herself? What does Franny’s mom think?

5. Early in the book, Franny says, “I have no circle. I am a dot.” (Chapter eight) What does she mean by this? Do you think she would still say she is a dot by the end of the book? Have you ever felt like this?

6. Why do you think Franny blackmails Sloan into cleaning houses with her, instead of turning her in for cheating? Do you think this is a good decision? Why does Sloan decide to keep cleaning houses with Franny, even after their deal is supposed to be over?

7. Why does Noah make origami animals for Franny? Why is she so reluctant to take them?

8. One thing Franny admires about Noah is the way he allows “other people’s opinions to roll off him.” (Chapter twenty-three) Why does Franny admire Noah for this? Do you think this is a good trait to have? Are you more like Noah or more like Franny in this regard?

9. Franny points out that “Even if Sloan and I are maybe-friends, she doesn’t know my secrets. She doesn’t understand how poor we are and what happens on Wednesday nights when the laundromat closes early. She only knows a slice of me, and it’s a carefully measured one.” (Chapter twenty-four) Why is Franny so reluctant to let other people see the real her? Do you think this is a good way to live? Over the course of the book, Franny learns that a lot of things aren’t quite as she thought—her mother’s financial planning, Sloan’s family life, Noah’s popularity. Have you ever learned something that surprised you about someone you thought you knew well?

10. Why do you think Sloan is mean to Franny at the beginning of the book? Were you surprised that Sloan and Franny became friends by the end? Do you have any friends who started out as enemies? What changed between you?

11. One key theme in this book is the importance of letting your community support you. How does Franny’s community support her? Does Franny like accepting this support? Why or why not? What support do you have in your life?

12. Why does Franny decide to secretly clean the houses of her mom’s clients after her mom gets hurt? Do you think this is a good decision? Franny secretly listens in on her mom’s Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Is this allowed? Why do you think Franny does it? What is she hoping to learn?

13. Why does Franny keep a secret jar of money? What is she worried might happen? Does this seem like a reasonable worry to you?

14. Franny’s mom nicknames them Big Dipper and Little Dipper. What’s the meaning behind these nicknames? Does your family have any nicknames for each other? What are they, and where did they come from?

15. Franny thinks she needs to take care of and protect her mom. Does her mom agree? Do you ever feel like you need to protect the adults in your life?

16. Why do you think Franny likes math so much? How does she feel when she doesn’t do well on the extra credit her math teacher gives her? What does Mr. Jamison tell her?

17. Franny says that she doesn’t like surprises. Why not? Do you like surprises? Do you think Franny’s attitude toward surprises has changed by the end of the book? What good surprises does she end up experiencing?

18. Franny says, “I am invisible. And I like it that way.” (Chapter fifteen) What are the advantages to being invisible? What are the disadvantages? Have you ever wished that you could be invisible? Do you think Franny is still invisible by the novel’s conclusion?

19. Each morning, Franny makes a color-coded to-do list in her planner. What kinds of tasks does she include? Why do you think she feels the need to have this list?

20. After she gets caught, Franny must make amends by apologizing to the people she has lied to. She thinks “apologies are exhausting.” (Chapter thirty-two) Why do you think apologizing is so difficult? What else does Franny discover about apologies?

21. Mimi tells Franny, “‘You can’t make anybody else do the right thing. You just have to keep doing the right thing for you.’” (Chapter thirty) What does Mimi mean by this? Does Franny always do the right thing?

22. When does Franny feel most like herself? How can you tell? When do you feel most like yourself?

23. Mimi tells Franny: “‘We’ve got to keep giving people grace, Franny. Even when they don’t deserve it. Especially when they don’t deserve it.’” (Chapter thirty-one) What does Mimi mean by this? In what ways do the characters in this book show each other grace? Has anyone ever given you grace when you didn’t necessarily deserve it? Have you ever done the same for someone else?

24. What is Mimi’s role in Franny’s and her mom’s lives? Why do you think she helps them? What adults can you really count on in your life? How do they guide and support you?

Extension Activities

1. Maid for It shows how addiction doesn’t only affect the person who is abusing substances. It also has a huge impact on the people who love that person. Write a report or create a poster on the effects of parental addiction on kids. Be sure to include information about how experts recommend helping kids cope with a parent’s addiction, like the seven Cs Franny’s mom reminds her of in this story.

2. Throughout the book, Noah gives Franny hand-folded origami animals. Research the Japanese art of origami. What are the rules of origami? Why is it culturally meaningful? Then try making your own origami animals. An adult can help you find books or websites that will teach you how.

3. Imagine you are Sloan. Write a diary entry about what life is like for you at school and at home. What are your parents like? What things are hard for you right now? How do you feel about Franny and the other people around you?

4. Create a picture album of the book’s key characters, including Franny, her mom, Mimi, Sloan, Noah, and anyone else you’d like. You can use pencil, paints, markers, or even make a collage to illustrate what you think each character in the book looks like. Under each character’s picture, write a brief description of what they do in the book and what that tells you about what they are like.

5. Create a character analysis for a character of your choice from the book. Your analysis should describe the character, what motivates them, what they struggle with, and how they grow and change over the course of the novel. You can present your analysis as a poster or a written report. If you’d like, include an illustration of what you think the character looks like.

6. Create a musical soundtrack for Maid for It. What songs capture the things that happen in the book and the emotions of the characters? For example, what song do you imagine playing when Franny finds out her mom has been injured? When she goes to the dance with Noah? When she and Sloan first start cleaning houses together? List the name and artist for each song, and then write a brief explanation of why you included it. If you’d like, you can create a listenable version of your soundtrack on a music app.

Chris Clark is a writer and reading teacher who lives with her family in coastal Maine.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

About The Author

Photograph © Bethany Rogers

Jamie Sumner is the author of Roll with ItTime to Roll, Rolling OnTune It OutOne Kid’s TrashThe Summer of JuneMaid for ItDeep Water, and Please Pay Attention. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other publications. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids. She is also the mother of a son with cerebral palsy and has written extensively about parenting a child with special needs. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 5, 2023)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665905770
  • Grades: 5 and up
  • Ages: 10 - 99
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ W These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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Raves and Reviews

"Sumner has created a story that delves into a heavy topic, but in a lighthearted way that is suitable for young readers. Franny is a sympathetic, relatable character, while beautifully crafted relationships drive the plot forward. . . An honest portrayal of the struggles a young girl will go through for her family."

School Library Journal

"This honest story invites readers into a realistic situation that many young people experience. It offers an accessible, welcoming, and introspective account of the struggles faced by those who worry about a loved one’s addiction. The well-developed relationships are a highlight. . . A heart-wrenching read about a girl forced to grow up too quickly."

Kirkus Reviews

"This honest story invites readers into a realistic situation that many young people experience. It offers an accessible, welcoming, and introspective account of the struggles faced by those who worry about a loved one’s addiction. The well-developed relationships are a highlight. . . A heart-wrenching read about a girl forced to grow up too quickly."

Kirkus Reviews

"With sure-handed plotting and distinctive characters, this immediate-feeling novel from Sumner captures the lingering impact of substance reliance on one family. . . a novel about moving forward with awareness and hope."

Publishers Weekly

"With sure-handed plotting and distinctive characters, this immediate-feeling novel from Sumner captures the lingering impact of substance reliance on one family. . . a novel about moving forward with awareness and hope."

Publishers Weekly

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