Greg Heffley continues with his hilarious journal. It seems that he has now become accustomed to writing it, because there are no gripes about that in this book. Or maybe it is because he has much more serious things to worry about... like the school soccer team and military school.
Dad is determined to make a man out of Greg. Greg is quite happy to stay a wimp, playing with the latest video games and trying to impress the beautiful Holly Hills. However, being the kind of person he is, Greg finds it difficult to attack the problem outright. The only method open to him is subterfuge.
Two-thirds of the book recounts Greg's ineffectual attempts to get out of the soccer team and his equally ineffectual attempts to befriend Holly Hills. He uses Rowley quite shamelessly whenever he feels it would give him an advantage: however, Rowley almost always comes out on top without even trying! We cannot blame Greg for feeling that life is unfair to him.
Towards the last third, soccer moves to the backstage as military school moves into the limelight. Dad sees the wonders it has done for teenage troublemaker in the neighbourhood: if it can work so well on a hooligan, what will it not do for a good boy? Greg is in immediate danger of being sent to boot camp for his summer holidays. None of his stratagems, like joining the Boy Scouts, seems to have any effect in forestalling the inevitable...
However, fate takes a hand, and Greg escapes by a hair's breadth. How that happens is narrated in his own inimitable way by Jeff Kinney, and is the highlight of the book. It is guaranteed to leave you in stitches.
In this novel, we see Greg slowly forming a bond with his Dad, who we find is not very different from his son. It is quite possible that Greg will grow up to be just like his father. And for a change, the novel ends on a happy note, because Greg has run out of pages immediately after being befriended by the gorgeous Trista, the new girl in the neighbourhood. And we are also happy, because despite all his cowardly traits, Greg Heffley is a lovable kid.
As humorous and warm as the first two books: highly recommended.