Skip to main content

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

Review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

September has rolled around again, and luckily for us, Greg Heffley is busily jotting his life happenings into his diary. Two and a half weeks have gone by since his big fight with his once best friend, Rowley. In Greg's less-than-humble take on the aftermath, he's been expecting Rowley to come a-crawling back. Remarkably, though, that hasn't happened, which shocks Greg. He muses on what a good friendship they had (while the accompanying reminiscent illustration shows a sweaty Rowley hauling Greg around on a skateboard).

Of course, there are a couple of other candidates for best friendship. Greg is forced to seriously consider these as the first day of school looms. He has hung out with Christopher, but considers him to be more of a "mosquito magnet" than an actual friend. Although the other candidate, Tyson, shares some of Greg's interests, he has an unfortunate bathroom quirk that is a major drawback.

Meanwhile, although Greg hopes Rowley will act fast to resume their friendship (because Greg sure isn't going to), he realizes Rowley has replaced him --- with a teenager named Brian. When Greg researches the situation, he discovers that Rowley's new buddy is part of a pal-for-hire company called "Cool Brian." Rowley's folks are paying for friendship for their son, a "service" Greg has provided for free for years. Hmmm.

Greg's commentary on popularity and the herd mentality is spot-on. He sits near popular kid Bryce Anderson and his cronies at lunch, chronicling Bryce toying with his followers. Greg looks on in disbelief as Bryce complains about a high-pitched sound, causing his friends to claim they all hear it (one even covers his ears, crying, "Ow, ow!"). Afterward, Bryce casually says he's kidding and that there’s no high-pitched sound. Of course, Greg gleans what may be just possibly the incorrect lesson from this interaction: He decides that Bryce has the right idea with his bunch of followers, concluding that the reason his own friendship with Rowley didn't work was because they were equal partners.

Other kids are posting lots of pictures online, making Greg realize that he needs to up the ante. Thanks to Photoshop and a digital camera, he inserts himself into scenes of beach volleyball, a conga line, and other festive happenings (too bad his photo-editing skills result in waaay too-obvious doctoring). His musings on what his brother has learned about online photos and privacy are hilarious, while holding more than a grain of truth.

The school nurse is planning to cover some extremely secret topics in Advanced Health this year. For a warm-up, the genders are split up so the boys can watch an ancient video titled "Say Hello to the Brand-New You!" While Greg is disgusted by the video, Rowley (who fears he might "catch puberty" from other kids) actually passes out during the viewing. Greg has more lessons regarding puberty in his near future, including one that leaves him and his fellow students perplexed.

Greg ruminates to great, hilarious effect on such topics as how much less cute older kids seem to relatives after their baby siblings arrive on the scene, first pimple envy, a devastatingly funny toast during a much-married uncle's wedding reception, fearful anticipation of his grandmother's "the Talk" given to each grandchild as a rite of puberty, and how his younger brother's poor aim in the bathroom led to missing the school bus.

As always, a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an occasion for celebration…or at least a devour-it-in-one-giggling-sitting readathon. Greg's latest journal jottings are the very best wintery blues antidote, no matter your age.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on November 9, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
(Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5)
by Jeff Kinney