Parents' Guide to

Diary of a Witness

By Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Intense tale of school bullying, loss, and isolation.

Diary of a Witness Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Author Catherine Ryan Hyde takes readers inside the world of two bullied teens, piling on misery that seems unnecessary. Through Ernie, a kind, meek, overweight teen, Hyde highlights a world where jocks rule, cool girls ridicule, and adults are misinformed, uninterested, or clueless. In other words, the setting is typical for teen literature with the usual stock characters. Ernie is a good window to this world because besides being a target, he's also a blank slate. His character is pretty one-dimensional. He's the good kid who's rarely conflicted about his moral compass; he's only torn when it comes to standing up for himself. Will is the bad kid who really isn't bad, just neglected and misunderstood.

The author seems to want to make sure the audience understands that Will gets dealt a bad hand. In addition to all the drama, there's a self-absorbed mother who leaves the family to live with her boyfriend, an alcoholic father, and a family tragedy to make sure Will is enough of a sympathetic character that readers will understand and expect when he finally snaps. Unfortunately, all of the misfortune isn't necessary. The sheer amount of bullying the boys face is enough to make the characters sympathetic. The added melodrama just serves to make Will more of a caricature, leaving the readers less connected to the story.

Book Details

  • Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • Genre: School
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Publication date: August 25, 2009
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate