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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

School. Hasn't This Gone on Long Enough? by Jim Benton has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Dear Dumb Diary, Year Two" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Middle-schooler Jamie Kelly has been sharing thoughts in her diary for a year now. In this first segment of her diary, year two, she discusses and doodles about math grades, friends, teachers, parents and the threat of summer school, among other random topics.

Jamie loves language arts but struggles in math. Her best friend, Isabella, spends a lot of time at Jamie's house and enjoys razzing Jamie's parents. The girls also hang out with Angeline, whom Jamie considers nice but not especially bright. When Angeline starts appearing more intelligent by out-scoring Jamie in language arts, wearing glasses, etc., Jamie begins feeling insecure about her own abilities. To make matters worse, the girls' other not-too-sharp friend Emmily emails to say she's getting amazing grades at her new school. Jamie is already questioning her own intelligence when she comes across a pamphlet about summer school on her family's kitchen table.

Out of desperation, Jamie lets Isabella tutor her in math. Jamie is thrilled when she manages to pass an important test. Then she learns her dad promised Isabella $10 if she could find a way to motivate Jamie to improve her math grade. Isabella's scheme included more than tutoring. She found sneaky ways to make Angeline and Emmily appear smarter than Jamie. Isabella knew if Jamie felt less intelligent than her not-so-smart friends, she would want to prove herself.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Jamie and her friends do Goth, vampire and zombie makeovers on each other.

Authority Roles

Jamie's father is an accountant. He''s concerned enough about her grades that he secretly promises her friend money if she can help Jamie improve in math. Jamie's mother urges her to improve her work ethic in school and think about the future. Jamie's math teacher continues to try to teach her, though Jamie thinks he's wasting his time.


The words darn and butt each appear a time or two. Jamie decides to use the word plethora because she says its counterpart, butt load, isn't very ladylike. She notes that turd face isn't ladylike either.


When a guy and girl kiss in a movie, one of Jamie's friends leaves the room because she finds it uncomfortable to watch. A sketch of a couple kissing appears on the page. Isabella sometimes says things to get rid of Jamie's dad while they're doing homework. For example, she suggests that her father drive them to the mall so they can try on bras. Her dad gets uncomfortable and leaves. An illustration at the bottom of the page shows her dad before and after hearing the word bra is mentioned.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Bathroom humor: Jamie writes about her dogs farting, her friend doing fart comparisons and a "terrifying" incident when her uncle Lou farted inside a closed car. She writes about her father making a dog poop rainbow while mowing the lawn.

Disrespect for others: Jamie refers to several friends, teachers, etc. in her diary as stupid or idiots. She acknowledges at the beginning of her diary that she knows she shouldn't ever call anyone those names. But she's not calling anyone those things, she says. She's just writing them in her private journal. (Her outward behavior toward her teachers and friends never appears disrespectful.)

Lying/Deception: Jamie tells her friend that she doesn't think lying is a good idea — unless she's sure she won't get caught, in which case it's a great idea.

Pop Culture: Isabella makes up a math story problem about Lady Gaga and when she'll need to leave New York to make it to her performance on time.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip 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.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 10


Jim Benton






Record Label



Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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