Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End

Cover for the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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Book Review

Diary scribe Greg Heffley and his family hit the road for a cross-country camping trip. But their visions of Camping-topia turn to Camping-geddon when one disaster after another leads them to an RV park that’s not exactly a summertime paradise. The Heffleys wonder if they can save their vacation—or if they’re already in too deep.

Plot Summary

In this 15th entry in the Wimpy Kid book series, diary scribe Greg Heffley tells us about one summer vacation that almost got washed out. For reasons he doesn’t go into (something unfortunate and disastrous back at the Heffley homestead), the whole family is crammed into Gramma’s basement for the summer. And there’s no bathroom down there (which can be a real problem when Gramma is entertaining and demands that the family stay down out of sight).

Fortunately, there’s an old RV of Greg’s Uncle’s that might solve the family’s basement-dwelling problems. If the Heffleys could just clean it out and stock it up, they could well be on their way to some driving-and-camping summer joy. And educational, family togetherness, Mom reminds them. Though, frankly, the last thing Greg and his older brother Rodrick are thinking about is education! Or being together. But no matter what happens, Greg is flat-out certain that the RV adventure will be far better than sleeping on the same futon with Rodrick and smelling his undead feet all summer.

Visions of Camping-topia turn to the stuff of Camping-geddon, however, as one disaster after another confronts the fun-seeking family. (Did you know ticks and mosquitoes got that big? And let’s not even talk about the bears!) Eventually the Heffleys point their RV toward a place called Camper’s Eden. But when the rains start falling, the Bible story involving a guy named Noah might be more appropriate.

Can this summer be rescued? Or is their family already in too deep?

Christian Beliefs

As Greg scratches out his diary entries with handy little sketch drawings, he sometimes references Bible stories and compares them to his own family’s situation. Just think of all the real-world suffering you’d have to endure while stuck on a big ark full of critters, for example. He also thinks through the amazing defenses that God built into the members of the animal kingdom—shells and talons and claws, for instance. (Too bad He left humans out in the cold with nothing but a big brain. Since all the good ideas were used up, Greg muses.)

Other Belief Systems

None.

Authority Roles

Adults are sometimes used as comic foils. But it’s also clear that the Heffley family loves their kids and that their parents are concerned with providing a good education for them.

Profanity & Violence

No bad words in this mix. Though some of the Heffley disasters might have nudged a bad word from some families, the worst they say here is a hearty “GAAAH!”

The violent side of things is easy going, too. Greg and his whole family get thumped around in everything from being chased by a bear to being bombed by watermelon-slingshotting teens to being washed out in a mini flood, but it’s all played for cartoony fun.

Sexual Content

None.

Discussion Topics

In light of the COVID-19 lockdowns, does your family situation sometimes feel like being locked down in Greg’s grandmother’s basement? What do you do to keep things fun? Have you ever been camping? What were your favorite outdoor activities?

God created the great outdoors, but does that mean it’s always going to be totally safe and fun out there? What would you do if you found yourself in some of Greg’s situation—such as accidentally getting lost in the woods?

Friendship is important. But would you have always made the same choices Greg did with his new buds at the RV park?

What did you think about this latest Wimpy Diary? We’re there any good lessons that stuck with you?

Get free discussion questions for other books at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

 

Additional Comments

The only slight negatives here are a few bad actions—people stealing some quarters from arcade machines, playing a shampoo prank and tipping over a camper. (Though none of those actions are praised.) And there are small toilet-y giggles that show up in the form of RV toilet backwash, skunk spray, dizzy-barfing camp activities, a discussion of the use of wolf urine and kids coming up with an underwear-focused punishment. But all of those things, when sketched out in an over-the-top diary entry with near-stick-figure drawings, feel far lighter and goofier than they would if portrayed with real people.

In fact, even though The Deep End spools out a summer of little disasters for the Heffley family (along with numerous funny situations we can all identify with), it also focuses warmly on how a loving family can find fun and togetherness in the midst of the troubles of life. The tale also notes that even if you think your bad situation would take a miracle to save, sometimes little family miracles do indeed happen.

The Deep End also has some witty things to say about our silly desires to have “perfect” pictures for our “perfect” social media accounts. And there are one or two mentions of good parents finding ways to keep kids from being glued 24-7 to their screens—and why that’s a good thing.

Overall, there’s really good fun here. And it’s stuff that adults will enjoy, too.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, hopefully equipping parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose

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