Homeroom Diaries Book Poster Image

Homeroom Diaries

Cyberbullied teens promote happiness in sweet misfit tale.

What parents need to know

Educational value

This book can help open up conversations about cyberbullying as well as depression and suicide. It includes a list of hotlines for teens in need in the back matter. Readers also will enjoy seeing references to other teen classics, such as Pride and Prejudice and Catcher in the Rye.

Positive messages

There are some great lessons here, such as Cuckoo's realization that, although she's currently sad, she can "imagine a day when I'm just happy and nothing else." She also talks to her therapist about her sadness as a perfectly normal reaction to some pretty serious stuff going on. Cuckoo also discovers that her friends -- and other students at school -- all are dealing with problems of their own.

Positive role models

Cuckoo's an easy character to love, because -- although she is sad about her situation -- she also is grateful for all the people who care for her, even finding a place in her heart for a prying guidance counselor. Her friends, too, while facing their own challenges -- including racism and poverty -- are really trying to make their school a better place by coming up with ideas for something they call Operation Happiness.   

Violence

A boy sexually attacks a girl in a car, and she escapes by biting him. A teen girl tries to kill herself after she is cyberbullied. A girl is attacked at school by another girl who thinks she's trying to steal her boyfriend; she gives her a puffy eye. A girl's Facebook account is hacked, and her status is changed to say she performs oral sex in exchange for money.

Sex

Cuckoo has romantic fantasies about a Jane-Austen-novel-like leading man, even imagining kissing him. She wonders if a friend is asking her out on a date or just as a friend. A boy asks her to dance at a country club. She crushes on a teacher, who's a genius and only 17; later, after he quits teaching, he asks her out. Someone has scribbled a picture of an "angry penis" at school.

Language

Some words such as "ass," "bitch,"  "crap," and "slut." There are two uses of "bulls--t."  

Consumerism

Some mentions of junk food such as Coke, Dunkin' Donuts, Entenmann's, and Frappuccino. Also mentions of Bridesmaids, Google, Home Shopping Network, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A boy gets drunk at a country club. One of Cuckoo's friends may have spiked the punch at a school dance. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Homeroom Diaries, by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou (Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar), can be used to open up conversations about cyberbullying as well as depression and suicide. It includes a list of hotlines for teens in need in the back matter, and black-and-white comic-book style illustrations throughout lighten things up and give the book the feel of a journal​. There are some great lessons here, such as protagonist Cuckoo's realization that, although she's currently sad, she can "imagine a day when I'm just happy and nothing else." Cuckoo's an easy character to love, because -- although she's sad about her situation -- she's also grateful for all the people who care for her. Her friends, too, while facing their own challenges -- including racism and poverty -- are really trying to make their school a better place by coming up with ideas for something they call Operation Happiness. There's some disturbing material, including a teen suicide attempt, a mean cyberbulling prank, and a drunk boy's sexual attack on a girl. Also, there are some words such as "ass," "bitch,"  "crap," and "slut" and two uses of "bulls--t."   

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Maggie -- or Cuckoo, as she calls herself -- has problems that many girls have. For example, she has uncooperative hair and is unsure if a cute boy in her group is asking her out as a friend or as a date. She also has some much bigger problems: Her flaky mother disappeared, leaving her alone and very sad. She had to be observed in a mental hospital and, after that, go to live with a loving but very frail neighbor. Luckily for Cuckoo, she has an amazingly supportive group of friends (who collectively call themselves the Freakshow, because they wanted a nickname "that's far worse than anything any of the diseased minds in our school could dream up"). When their sweet group becomes the target of mean cyberbullying, she realizes she's not the only one who's feeling fragile. But, instead of planning revenge, the Freakshow focus on an idea for fixing their sick school culture.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

It's easy to fall in love with this band of misfits as they work on their happiness, hug one another in hard times, and devise a creative (if far-fetched) plan to make their school culture healthier. There are some great lessons in HOMEROOM DIARIES, such as Cuckoo's realization that, although she's currently (and understandably) sad, she can "imagine a day when I'm just happy and nothing else."

The black-and-white comic-book style illustrations make this book feel like a journal and add a bit of lightness to some pretty serious topics. And sweet, quirky Cuckoo, who tells bad jokes and dreams up a romantic character straight from a Jane Austen novel to get her through homeroom, is an engaging protagonist.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cyberbullying. Does what happened to Cuckoo and her friends on Facebook seem like something that could happen at your school? (This might be a good time to review Common Sens's advice on cyberbullying.)

  • What do you think about the way the book treats feeling sad and a teen's suicide attempt? Do you think it was a good idea for the authors to include hotline information in the back of he book?

  • Also, Cuckoo says she plans to return to tell more of her story. What do you think will happen? Will you read it?

Book details

Authors:James Patterson, Lisa Papademetriou
Illustrator:Keino
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Friendship, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:July 21, 2014
Number of pages:272
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Homeroom Diaries was written by

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

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Ratings

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate.

Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byKekeGenae October 6, 2015

Good Book

Great Book
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking