You know, sometimes I re-read books for this blog, and I’m surprised how good they still are. Most of Judy Blume’s books, the Ramona books, Jerry Spinelli’s books, and so many others are still good reads for the grownup set.
This book? Not one of those. I don’t even remember whether or not I liked this book back when I first read it, because not much of it at all stuck with me. But, let me assure you, it is really a terrible book.
As the title suggests, Darci lost her diary. Darci is in sixth grade and her mom has encouraged her to keep a diary. She writes all kinds of secrets in there, mostly having to do with how cute her classmate, Travis, is and what it would be like to kiss a boy. But one day Darci’s diary goes missing. And she grills her family about it (mom, dad and two brothers) but no one knows where it is.
She and her friends get paranoid and think that Darci’s neighbor, Matt (who is also in her class) took it because he’s kind of a pest. While Darci freaks out about someone reading her diary, Travis starts hanging out with Darci a lot. They listen to records in the den. Neat-O!
There’s a new girl in class, Susan, who wears really nice clothes and even has her ears pierced, so naturally, Darci and her friends hate her. Susan might be having a Valentines Day party and Darci and her friends think they won’t be invited. So they come up with the idea of having a big sixth grade party for the whole class. Then Susan says she has a big house with a nice playroom, so it should be at her house instead of the school cafeteria.
Darci comes over to Susan’s to help decorate, and it turns out Susan is really nice, and she doesn’t have a mother. She lives alone with her father and she’s probably very lonely. Also, Travis plays a prank involving water balloons, which Darci gets blamed for because she was in charge of decorations. She doesn’t rat out Travis, but she’s super pissed when Travis doesn’t take the blame.
She storms out of the party, all mad at Travis, then Matt comes along and offers a ride on his bike. Matt thinks Travis is a dick for having Darci take the blame. Also, it turns out Matt is the one, not Travis, who got Darci a chocolate Valentine. Darci realizes Matt is pretty adorable himself, with freckles that look friendly (what?).
Oh, then it turns out Darci’s little brother broke his bed and had grabbed a bunch of books from Darci’s room to prop up his bed. One of those books was her diary, so she gets it back.
- Darci’s younger brother has a hamster and he names him Bwana. Darci thinks it’s hilarious because “Bwana is African for master!” Haha! Also, did you know African is a language? Because I sure didn’t! Here I thought it was a continent that included many different languages (according to Wikipedia, anywhere from 1,250 to 2,100 native-spoken languages). It’s such a weird racist-ish detail. Like, the hamster could have been named anything, but the author chose Bwana? And then called African a language?
- The book was written in 1984, so it’s not like this was written in the dark ages. Pretty sure people knew African isn’t a language thirty years ago.
- Also, given that the book was written in ’84, there was way too much 1970’s slang in usage. Soooo many ‘far-outs’, which I know wasn’t the style in ’84 because we used to laugh at that slang while watching old Brady Bunch re-runs.
- Also, I doubt Darci and Travis would be so into the Bee-Gees in 1984. Try Wham or Duran Duran.
- The dialogue is terrible.
“No, you see my brother’s hamster got lost. We’ve been looking all over the house for him.”
“Say, that’s too bad. I’ll help you.”
“Oh neat!” Donny exclaimed.”
- Seriously, Travis begins so many sentences with the word, “Say.” “Say, that was a great letter you wrote.” Or, “Say, hamsters are okay.”
- And there is just some odd choice of words in the book. When Darci is talking on the phone to her friend Luanne, Luanne is happy, and her voice is described as “breathing into the phone with excitement.” Let me repeat that: Breathing into the phone with excitement.
- Darci’s mom is taking “some psychology classes,” and ever since then she’s become really annoying. I knew some psych majors in college, and I never got the stereotype that they were annoying and trying to diagnose everyone. But Darci’s mom…geez. She goes on and on about what she and her teacher think are appropriate things for kids.
- Despite all the “psychology classes,” everyone in the family is really unsympathetic toward little Donny when his hamster goes missing. The older brother actually shrugs, and is like “Well, those are the breaks, kid.” The hamster probably died somewhere in the house because they never found him, but no one is really all that concerned about it.