‘Jesus, what an a-hole’ – Goodreads reviewer
(I’m inclined to agree)
My cousin and her ten year old kid came to visit. He’d brought an actual book along, which I thought was commendable. Tiring of the adult conversation (and probably with less subtlety than I imagine) I extracted myself to a sofa on the periphery and picked up his book and started reading through it*. It was the Diary of a Wimpy kid.
*I have limited capacity for grown up stuff. Unless topics wander into my limited Venn which is a fairly rare occurrence.
A couple of weeks later the box set became available as a post Christmas special. So I whimsically bought it. I generally like box sets having recently acquired the Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter and the Paddington Bear box sets in similar offerings. (in anticipation of the girl-progeny, in several years starting to read)
I think this series has quite a lot of hype about it. Its a genre (pre-teen) I have limited experience with, but I gather there is some degree of polarization of parents whose children have read this series. Apparently you love it, or you hate it. I have a suspicion that the parents that love it, haven’t actually read it, and are potentially just happy their kids aren’t binge watching cartoon network (this that still a thing?) or surfing Pornhub.
While hate is a relatively strong emotion this series did make me feel uncomfortable.
- The protagonist, Gregory Heffley, is a serious a-hole. He treats his best friend REALLY badly and bullies kids of a lesser social standing than himself. Diary of a douche-bag, seems like a less disingenuous title.
- This book celebrates mediocrity and makes it seem almost aspirational. Greg lies, cheats, is lazy, has zero-ambition and is kinda pathetic. Why you would want this character as role-model for your child is beyond me. Greg is the kid you hope your child doesn’t become friends with.
- Greg’s parents are also a-holes that need to take responsibility for stuffing up their kids. They see-saw between neglect and doing their school projects for them, but don’t actually teach them any values or instill a sense of responsibility in them.
I guess the biggest problem is that I can’t relate to this book at all. My childhood wasn’t like this. In fact I feel a bit sorry for Greg. Even if he is a fictional character.
I think about the sort of books I read when I was ten. It was all pretty heroic stuff. Enid Blytons Famous Five, Secret Seven, Willard Price’s adventure series (I loved these), The Hardy boys, Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators. Books that inspired me to go outside and build forts, inspired me to play in the pool, to catch bugs, to go camping, ride my bike. Diary of a Wimpy kid does none of these things.
I prefer Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink. Or The Gutsy Girl by Caroline Paul.
Maybe I’m overthinking this.
Kids don’t necessarily have the same take on the books they consume that adults do. Kids are reading and this a good thing right?
Honestly I don’t know. Society has evolved and with it values and norms. Being a kid in the 80’s was awesome. (Stranger things makes me super nostalgic) Maybe I should get off my high horse and stop moralizing.
Now where did I put my Playstation controller…