The diary genre is often overused, both in literature and as a writing structure in the classroom. This is the fifth volume in the ‘Dork’ series alone, with a sixth volume and a UK website launch already planned. But to miss a Dork Diary would be to miss an hilarious insight into the angst of female teenage dorkdom.
The diarist Nikki Maxwell (think 14-year-old Clarice Bean) believes, as most teenagers do, that she is the only dork in the world and she aches to join the cult of cute, cool and popular. But as she helps Brandon, the boy of her dreams, to save his grandmother’s animal shelter, she realises that family and friendship are far more important. She also discovers that cute, cool and popular do not always equate with kind, caring and thoughtful.
The writing, from the attorney and writer Rachel Renee Russell, is witty, pacy and absolutely contemporary. You need to read it to appreciate exactly why Nikki feels the need to sleep with her sunglasses on or wear her bike helmet to literature classes. Everything is there, from embarrassing parents and pesky little sister to publicly humiliating accidents and a plethora of self-image issues.
This is a realistic, direct, honest and funny picture of life for the modern teenage girl. And perhaps in reading it, Nikki Maxwell’s audience will realise that dorkiness isn’t exclusive – it’s a common feeling when you’re 14, your hair is constantly ‘greasier than a supersized order of fries’ and you regularly want to sue your parents just for existing – a very reassuring read!