Friday, October 11, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
217 pages

In The Last Straw Greg's schemes and laziness are laugh out loud hilarious and ridiculous. Greg is worried that father is going to send him to military school to make him mature and hardworking, but Greg thinks he's perfect as stated in his first entry about New Year's Resolutions: "Well, the problem is, it's not easy for me to think of ways to improve myself, because I'm already pretty much one of the best people I know." He then set out to help other people improve, including suggesting to his mother to chew her chips more quietly.

The tension between Greg and his dad began when Greg's dad caught him standing over the heating vent wearing his mother's fluffy bathrobe. He also caught Greg hiding in a basket full of his mother's underwear in the laundry room. His father was also tired of waking Greg up for naps. The turning point happened when Greg's father witnessed him trying to use the Force to get a remote for 15 minutes. He tells Greg to go outside and exercise after that. Greg's laziness is exacerbated by the fact that his father's boss Mr. Warren has three sons who are sports fanatics and Greg's dad sees them exercising when he drives home from work every day.
Greg joins a soccer team as a bench player after feeling pressured to be more physically active. However, he goofs off a lot and is not interested in the games. When Greg gets the opportunity to be goalie he gets distracted by dandelions. His father is furious and fed up once again. Greg tries to cover up the fact that his grades are getting lower because he's not completing his school work due to his lazy behavior. For example, Greg turned in a fake four page paper for biology class because he was too busy watching tv and playing video games. Greg's father encounters a teenager named Lenwood from their neighborhood at the movies and they get along surprisingly well. Greg's father is impressed by Lenwood's transformation and Lenwood tells him that he goes to Spag Union Military Academy. After that conversation Mr. Heffley tells his Greg that he is going to sign him up for the same military school and that new recruits report on June 7th.
Greg is frantic to get in his dad's good graces so he joins the local Boy Scouts. Greg decides he wants to be in Troop 133 instead of Troop 24 because Troop 24 does a lot of community service projects and Troop 133 has hot dog roasts and pool parties. The Boy Scout experience goes well and helps Greg appear more disciplined. Greg's progress is ruined when he is unable to go on a camping trip and his dad has to camp with the Woodley brothers instead. Mr. Heffley ends up going to the emergency room with the Woodley brothers and is very upset about the whole weekend. Greg feels there is no way he can convince his dad to change his mind about sending him to military school now. Things appear pretty grim for Greg until he inadvertently saves his dad from having to perform something goofy at Seth Snella's half birthday party. Greg climbs a tree to retrieve a blanket that his little brother Manny threw in the branches and Greg's pants fall down. Just as Mr. Heffley was going to be videotaped performing, Greg took the attention away as he was hanging from the tree branch.
Mr. Heffley thought that Greg was pretending to get his dad out of the performance, and he was very happy for the distraction Greg caused. On the morning Greg feared his dad was going to send him to Spag Union his father tells him that he's re-thought the whole thing and that maybe Greg can just do push ups and sits up every once in a while. Greg is extremely relieved and uses his newfound freedom to imagine a great summer lounging around the pool with a cute girl. Greg is grateful his father has changed his mind, but that doesn't mean he's going to change his ways as evidenced by his plans at end of the diary. Greg might be lazy, but he's determined to enjoy himself even if he's doing something he's not particularly fond of, and that's a quality readers can admire along with his sense of humor.

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