Author: Rachel Renée Russell
The Dish: Middle School. Sometimes it can be just as bad as high school, if not worse. And if you’re the new kid in town, it can be disastrous if you make the wrong first moves. Meet Nikki Maxwell, and this is her life. The daughter of a pest exterminator, Nikki has been given an opportunity to attend Westchester Country Day Middle School thanks to a scholarship through her father’s bug business. It’s not that she isn’t thrilled with the prospect of going to a new school, but there are standards that she must maintain as a fourteen-year-old girl. Her first week doesn’t go so well and she has already attracted the annoyance of the most popular girl in school, MacKenzie Hollister. What’s a new girl to do? Write and draw about her days in school in her diary.
After reading not one but two reviews about Rachel Renée Russell’s Dork Diaries on Unshelved.com, I was intrigued by the story and had to check out the first book. It was the cover that really jumped out at me because it almost has the look of a graphic novel. Nikki is just like the average middle school girl, wanting to fit in with the CCP (that’s Cute, Cool & Popular) crowd while also catching the eye of that secret crush. And the readers are able to see just what every day is like for her through her diary. Unlike other “diary novels”, Russell takes Dork Diaries further than merely a story told through a diary: 1) it appears as though Nikki has actually handwritten the entirety of the story, adding a more realistic feel to the story and 2) as she is an artist, Nikki also draws little scenes from her daily experiences just to illustrate (pardon the pun) the points she tries to make regarding her thoughts.
Nikki’s life is full of what nearly every fourteen-year-old has. There is the ultra-popular girl who everyone caters to just so they might be included with the popular crowd. There are the “dorky” friends who make life much more bearable in an otherwise annoying existence, even though they can sometimes make it unbearable at times. And there is, of course, that one guy that just makes the day even better just from talking with him. All of the pieces add to the puzzle that is the life of a young teenager, and without any of those elements, life just wouldn’t be “normal.”