Friday, November 15, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
217 pages

The latest entry in the Wimpy Kid series is immensely enjoyable. Hard Luck features the usual Greg Heffley humor involving his slacking, self-centered, scheming, homebody nature. Greg gets into relatable scrapes at school and with his family that makes his character still fun to read about.

In this book Greg finds himself friendless when his best friend Rowley ditches him for his girlfriend Abigail. Greg's ensuing search for new friends and the struggle of being alone makes you smile even though it can be pretty sad sometimes, for example, when he has to play checkers with a teacher during recess after pressing the "Find a Friend" button for company on the playground. He comments on how the students ineffectively handle problems such as there not being enough seats in the lunchroom and the way many students tried to crook the Hero Point system for extra recess. Greg offers insightful social commentary on the structure of the different groups he tries to see if he can fit in with such as noting that the girls tend to discriminate against less popular boys and the unhygienic habits of the boys at his lunch table.

When Greg attempts to let the results of a Magic 8 ball make his decisions for him his plan unravels and things get out of hand at school because he doesn't complete homework assignments and is not being responsible for his actions. The funniest moment of the book is when Greg goes to school with The Body Blankie to be more comfortable. Another standout scene is at a family reunion on his mother's side where Greg has difficulties finding his place among the kids and the grown ups. There is a hilariously realistic scene where everyone fights to find his great-grandmother Meemaw's diamond ring.

This book manages to convey humor despite the serious topic of feeling isolated. Greg starts to take some responsibility for his actions and even made a wise decision to keep his family intact over Meemaw's ring at the end, which is unexpected and touching.

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