It's hard to find good middle grade fiction. I like to steer my kids toward wholesome, living books, but when the books they like have titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or The Dork Diaries or Dear Dumb Diary, I don't have much hope. And so, when I was asked to review the first book in a new series by Angie Spady- The Desperate Diva Diaries- which claims to be a wholesome alternative to some of the popular "diary" styled books- I was interested.
Book one of the series is titled Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters. From the book's description: Conrad is a typical Christian girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Between the upcoming school dance, a bratty little brother and his pet skunk, a big art competition and not to mention the school’s resident bully “princess,” her life is full of drama. The book is written in the popular diary format, as Conrad chronicles her life as a “wannabe diva,” and also includes her prayer journal. She learns that there is nothing the combination of her best friend and faith can’t get her through, and never ceases to recognize God’s hand in all situations.
I had a slight objection over the word "Diva" in the title. We don't let the girls call themselves that. I think it can be used as an excuse for acting entitled. But I was encouraged by the description, so I dove in. My oldest daughter-15- read the book first. She caught it the day it came in the mail, and she sometimes enjoys reading below grade level so that she can read a book quickly. I told her to evaluate it before we gave it to the younger girls- ages 9 and 10.
Kathryne's opinion was that the book sounded too much like the diaries that it was supposed to be an alternative to. Catie, our heroine, can be a little obnoxious. She's pretty sarcastic about her parents and her brother at times, and she does sound rather diva like even though she throws in Bible verses and prayer requests in her diary.
I thought perhaps her critique was a bit harsh, so I read through myself. Here are my thoughts.
- The book is marketed for girls ages 9-12. Catie is obsessed with her looks and there is a good bit of the book where she's talking about a boy she likes. I don't want to fill my 9 and 10 year olds heads with thoughts of whether or not they look good and with ideas about boys liking them.
- I don't like Catie's attitude in much of the book. She often has a disrespectful tone about her parents and her brother whom she calls "the Germ."
- There are some Bible verses and prayers woven throughout the diary. And it seems as if Catie does learn a little about trusting God's plan for her life, so I appreciate that these are positive messages.
- In the end, Catie does seem to learn some valuable lessons, and things are tied up pretty well in the conclusion.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.