Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck is the eighth book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It was released worldwide on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
- Greg Heffley
- Rowley Jefferson (Secondary antagonist)
- Rodrick Heffley
- Abigail Brown (Main antagonist)
- Manny Heffley
- Frank Heffley
- Susan Heffley
Greg Heffley is upset over Rowley Jefferson as his best friend is more interested in Abigail, though his mother tries to cheer him up by telling him that friends come and go. Since Rowley Jefferson and Abigail Brown became a couple at the end of the previous book, the two friends have become more and more distant, very noticeably even within nine and a half days. There were many things Greg and Rowley used to do together, such as blow bubbles in chocolate milk cartons that they can't do now because Abigail is so strict about it. Greg doesn't like how Abigail is trying to "shape" Rowley, and even believes she is starting to use him. Greg states that it gets to the point where Rowley isn't allowed his own opinions anymore and is simply just following Abigail's. Many plans, such as a snowball fight on a nice day, haven't gone ahead, and when Greg confronts Rowley, he taunts Greg by telling him he's just jealous that he has a girlfriend. Rowley was the only one who could bail Greg out of the fact his English teacher, Mr. Blakely only accepts essays written in cursive. Also, Rowley would scout ahead and check for any dog poop whilst they are walking to school, but without Rowley, Greg is having to watch out for the poop himself and avoid Rebel.
Greg finds a solution to his luggage problem - a roller bag. He is able to go to school fast, but there are a few dangers between home and school, such as an angry neighbor whose front lawn got ripped up as a result of a game Greg and Rowley played last winter, and woods full of the Mingo kids, who live in the woods and act like wild animals. Mom notices Greg and Rowley have stopped hanging out and gives Greg some advice. Greg, after reading a hundred editions of Slumber Party Pals, realizes that girl friendships and boy friendships are different and befriends Fregley. He then explains things to Fregley about his lunch table like the Five-Second Rule where anyone can eat anything if it is not on the ground for five or more seconds. One rule was made. Freddie Harlahan ate a ham, then he got sick. Then he explains the problems in his lunchroom, he criticizes the burger and fries that they get. and on Friday how Nolan Tiago gets food from his mom from a fast-food place and how everybody would fight for getting the fries that fall out of his box and explains the problem with seats in his lunchroom. Greg and Rowley once went cycling in the basketball court and a kid called Leon Feast used to kick them out of it and bully them because he wanted to play basketball with his friends. Greg and Rowley saw fliers for "The Superhero Training Academy" and decided to go, which they thought would help them stand up to Leon, but it turned out to be a scam for little children. Then they learn that their "powers" were totally useless. Greg then talks about the different groups of people who hang out in recess, including Erick Glick, a kid who hangs around with his "sketchy" friends and he would give any person an old book report or homework assignment if they pay him enough money. Then Greg talks about how the bully-reporting station (from Cabin Fever) turned into Find A Friend Station. No kid came, but a teacher (Mr. Nern) came and played checkers with him. Greg then starts feeling bad that even his younger brother Manny has a friend his grandfather also has a girlfriend and lots of women trying to win him over, as "men are outnumbered by women ten to one" he explains how Susan tries to get Greg to make friends by having him have a playdate with her old mate's son who was a high school senior. She gives Greg advice to make friends and be popular but these didn't help Greg since it was not what was considered popular in Greg's school.
Then the school came up with a system called "Hero Points" which was awarded to a child if they were found being kind to someone else and these could be exchanged for prizes and the class with the most Hero Points would get a day off at the last day of school in June. Kids started faking good deeds whenever the teachers were around. Then Erick Glick got hands on a sheet of it and photocopied it and sold it for money, making the kids realize they could start counterfeiting it too. Soon the teachers got suspicious that even the worst kids got loads of them, so they started printing them in green color, but it started getting counterfeit again, and they started a rule that only five Hero Points could be turned in at a time. Even the children who got more than that amount legitimately were given detentions, which Greg thinks is a shame, since Marcel Templeton, one of the nice kids, earned his five Hero Points legitimately. The school then ended the system after the janitor found out the base of the children who made fake Hero Points.
Greg then complains to Susan that popularity matters on clothes in his schools so she takes him, Rodrick, and Manny shopping. Greg talks about how his shoes are hand-me-downs from Rodrick and how in fourth grade his mother bought new cheap ones at dollar stores that broke easily and then Greg tries to decide which ones he should pick. Greg then explains how the way to his school is very dirty and he tries to avoid the dirt by covering his shoes with plastic bags. Then at school, he has a Geography pop quiz, which he was twenty minutes late to. Greg noticed that there was a pile of dog poop on his shoes so the teacher gave him a plastic bag to keep it in and do the test. Greg checked the Lost and Found but couldn't find any temporary replacements. Luckily, Greg later finds backup shoes of Mr. Nern but was too big for his feet and people laughed at him. Susan told Greg that he should go out and try to find a new friend, but there aren't any good people to be friends with.
Greg suddenly thinks of Fregley and thought if he becomes his friend, he can mold him to be the exact friend he wants. Greg thought he could use Fregley as his comic relief to gain popularity. Greg then invites him to his desk at lunch and tries to tell him about the rules of the desk, and when he was telling him about the five-second rule, Fregley quickly ate the potato chip which was in Greg's hand. When they were going back home, they got too close to the Mingo kids and all of them started chasing them, Fregley threw all of Greg's books thinking the kids would stop and read them.
The next day Greg found when Fregley was getting dressed he accidentally wore his shirt upside down. So Greg took him to the girls' table and hoped they would laugh, but they didn't so he asked Fregley to do a trick. Fregley stripped down to his underwear and put a piece of chewing gum in his belly button and started moving it with his belly button as though he was "chewing" it and then he tried to blow a bubble, but that didn't happen and scared the girls, after that, the boys got impressed and tried to see what else Fregley can "chew" with his belly button. Greg thought since his spring break is coming he can have a stress-free break until Susan tells that her family will come to town.
Greg explains how Susan never gives them any kind of warning when anybody from her side of the family (aside from Gramma) is coming to visit, feeling that Frank and the boys would probably make a run for it. Greg goes on to explain how most of his relatives through Susan's side of the family live pretty far away, so they don't see them that much outside of holidays such as Easter. Greg says that Susan has four sisters (named Cakey, Gretchen, Veronica, and Audra) but notes that Susan and her sisters are all so different from each other that he's kind of shocked that they had all grown up under the same roof.
- Cakey's the oldest of the five sisters and according to Greg, she never married or had children, which is probably a good thing, because Cakey doesn't seem too fond of children in general. Also, Susan hasn't trusted Cakey to babysit Greg or either of his brothers since this one time when Greg was little and he got a second-degree burn from pressing his whole hand onto the clothing iron that Cakey had been using (though in Cakey's defense, she told Greg not to do it).
- Gretchen's the youngest of the five sisters and is basically Cakey's polar opposite--she has a bunch of pets and twin sons named Malvin and Malcolm, who're so badly behaved and out-of-control that they're basically like wild animals (in fact, Gretchen even kept them on child leashes at one point).
- Veronica's the only one who won't make an appearance at Easter, at least not in person--Greg claims that when it comes to family gatherings for the relatives on his mother's side of the family, Veronica usually makes an appearance via webcam (Greg thinks that being with the family stresses her out). In fact, Greg notes that he probably hasn't seen his Aunt Veronica in person since he was in preschool.
- Audra's a big believer in things like astrology and the supernatural and, according to Greg, never does anything (not even household chores) without consulting her psychic first. When Greg had to stay with his Aunt Audra for a little while a few summers back, she took Greg with her to some of her psychic appointments. When Susan learned of this, she got mad and Greg says that she believes that sort of thing to be "hocus-pocus." However, Greg finds this to be a little hypocritical since Susan often claims that Gramma has ESP (which is basically a type of psychic powers).
Greg talks about his luck and how he has been seeing things like horoscopes and fortune cookies and he is not happy with the results of making his own decisions. Greg later talks about how he used to make cash by selling drawings to the family, but they got tired of it and started buying Manny's.
Greg explains the Easter is going to be at his grandmother's house again and there is no kind of entertainment for children there and she only has a stuffed elephant Ellie, but her dog and their old dog Sweetie tore off her trunk, ears, and limbs. Greg explains how his ex-pet dog has become really overweight after Gramma overfed him. Greg explains how he used to enjoy Easter when his great-grandmother, Meemaw was still alive--Meemaw and her husband, Peepaw, are Gramma's parents and Susan's maternal grandparents. Greg says that when Meemaw was still alive, she would put prizes in plastic eggs and would hide them in the backyard. Then after brunch, the kids would go there and find as many eggs as they can. Greg says that Meemaw would always hide way more eggs than she needed to -- in fact, Greg figures that there's probably still enough eggs hidden in and around Gramma's house to fill up at least one basket. Though Meemaw would usually put cool prizes in the eggs (like candy or even money), she started putting in some pretty weird things in her later years. After Meemaw passed away, at her funeral Susan noticed her diamond ring was missing.
Meemaw's ring had been in the family for at least three generations and was apparently worth a lot of money, so when they saw it was missing, all the relatives got scared and tried to find the ring. Then later they had Easter, where everybody was happy and people moved past the ring issue. Greg introduces some of his family members also. Greg then explains how he gets bored there since he doesn't have anything to occupy himself with. Greg then explains the main event at Easter was brunch and that there were separate tables for adults and kids, he didn't like eating in Gramma's dining room anyways since he thought it was too formal, and he mentioned how at brunch one year, Peepaw had a green bean hanging from his lip for most of the meal, which was pretty funny on its own, but Greg just had to laugh when it fell into his glass of water, but no one else did and Frank just shot Greg a dirty look, who just went back to his peas. Another time, on Peepaw's birthday, Peepaw tried to blow out his candles but his dentures came flying out, Greg tried so hard not to laugh, that he felt like he would burst a blood vessel or blow an eyeball out, plus he just drank a big glass of chocolate milk, Greg thought of Sweetie, and one thought led to another, and Greg couldn't take it anymore. Greg says that was probably the reason the kids and adults sit at separate tables.
Greg explains that the way they qualify who is an adult and can sit at the grown-up table is incorrect since his Uncle Cecil who is actually 3-4 years old and was adopted by his Great Aunt Marcie would be seated with adults and Rodrick with kids although he is almost a grown man. Then Aunt Audra's psychic told her that Meemaw's ring was in a family photo album and then many members started searching the albums. They didn't find it and looked for clues until his Uncle Larry found two photos of the last year Easter and in one photo Meemaw was wearing the ring and in another wasn't, so they deduced that the ring must be hidden in one of the eggs and started searching the backyard. The family didn't come inside and the Heffleys finally left.
Aunt Gretchen and her sons were supposed to stay with the Heffleys for a week but they did only for two days since one of the twins had called 911 when the ketchup ran out. Greg was sleeping in Rodrick's room on an air mattress, the next day when he woke up he found a Magic 8 Ball under Rodrick's bed, he took it and asked it a question and shook it. Then when the Magic 8 Ball started giving answers that were reasonable, Greg realized that he could also take advice from it and he would use it to make little decisions in his life.
Greg starts finding a few limitations of his Magic 8 Ball but doesn't give it up. One day, Susan tells him to go outside, but he hides in her closet instead. There he finds a lot of parenting books hidden away. Then he notices some stuffed-monkeys that all look identical to one he had as a little kid.
Then a flashback happens to the time when Greg lost the toy, but he found another on top of his dresser and (possibly wrongly) concluded his mother bought backups to replace the toy if he gets lost. Greg then uses the "reverse psychology" to convince his parents to get him a phone and gets his mother's old one. Greg was not allowed to text and had to share the phone with Manny. Greg downloaded some games and played them until when he was in the bathroom playing games and his Aunt Veronica's video chat came, he got surprised and dropped the phone into the toilet, and he fished it out but it wasn't working.
Greg decides to take up a hobby club after-school so he can escape the Mingo Kids' woods and kill the time. Using the Magic 8 Ball he came across the yearbook club door, the yearbook was almost complete but more photographs were needed so Greg signed up. Greg started taking pictures of random things since he couldn't find anything interesting which people were doing. He started editing photos to make them funny. He goes back to his mother's closet and found his Body Blankie, a blanket that had sleeves with mittens, basically an onesie made of the blanket. Greg and Rodrick were totally "addicted" to it and they would almost always wear it and would sleep anywhere with it, so his parent took it away. Greg thought that wearing his body blankie to school would make him feel the same as he feels when in bed so he wore it under his school clothes. Greg had disadvantages: He could not open his locker and wasn't able to do Jumping Jacks in Phys Ed properly. After that, he thought of taking it off but its zipper fell off and he started to sweat.
Then he had a Social Studies true/false test. He used the Magic 8 Ball to find the answers, but while doing so his magic 8 ball fell down and the teacher caught him. The teacher thought it was a "high-tech" cheating device and reported him to Vice Principal Roy who later called his mother. Susan tried to defend Greg by saying that the Magic 8 Ball was just a "harmless toy" and couldn't have been using it to cheat, but Mr. Roy said that Greg's grades have been deteriorating and warns him that if they don't improve, he's probably going to have to go to school. Hearing this, Greg gets worried and admits that while he's never gone to summer school, he's heard some pretty bad rumors about it (like how they apparently shut off the air conditioning as a way to save money and, supposedly, none of the regular teachers are there -- in fact, Greg's heard the school janitor teaches English during the summer). Then Greg got worried about his science fair which is coming soon. Greg was getting ideas, but his yearbook teacher came and asked him to take photographs of the category winners. Greg took the pictures of them until Rowley and Abigail showed up who was voted cutest couple and Greg started feeling sad but took their photos anyway and resigned from his job.
Greg got back his Magic 8 Ball, but because it apparently was broken and would no longer give answers, Greg threw it away in Gramma's backyard. Greg later was under pressure as he had to make a science project. So he thought about talking to Erick Glick, and at recess, Greg told him that he needs a science project. Erick Glick took him to the school's storage area where Dennis Denard is, and he took Greg to the room where all of the science fair projects were to check a project. However, once Greg saw some of the old projects, especially Rodrick's middle school project, he started having second thoughts about it. Erick and Dennis started to get angry at Greg and told him to pick one of them, but he said he didn't have money. They didn't believe him and told him to turn his pockets upside down to prove it but he ran away before they could catch him.
Ultimately, Greg proceeds as originally intended by doing his own science fair project, which he acknowledges may not be the greatest project, but he's happy to have done it on his own. Aside from that, Greg notes that it's an ultimately good thing he didn't buy off a project from Dennis and the others -- Greg claims that someone tipped off a teacher and then a bunch of faculty staged a raid on the storage where all the old science projects and homework assignments were kept, and all the students who caught have detention for the rest of the school year (Greg also figures that they'll probably have to go to summer school as well).
The day before the science fair project, Greg worked on his science fair project right after school. He thought he was finished with the project, but Susan went over the rules and found out that the project has to be typed. Greg thought of doing the typing part in the morning but woke up late and didn't have time to do it. He actually found out that the project had been typed by his mother and tried to thank her, but Susan was already asleep. Although this happened, Greg actually enjoyed himself throughout the day since he had turned in his science project.
Rowley, however, doesn't enjoy himself, and it's revealed that just a week after he and Abigail were voted "Cutest Couple," she broke up with him (rather harshly at that) and got back together with her previous boyfriend, Michael Sampson. Greg then claims that he heard some of his schoolmates claim that they feel Abigail was never actually that into Rowley and was only dating him to make Michael jealous. During recess, Greg finds Rowley (who still appears to be traumatized by Abigail's betrayal) at the Find-a-Friend station and is about to go up to him, but Mr. Nern beat him to it. Greg then starts to think that he and Rowley might just be better not being friends. But seeing Rowley play checkers with Mr. Nern made him feel guilty, so he decides to go to the place where he could get the only answer. Greg heads to his Gramma's backyard to find his Magic 8 Ball so that he could get one more good answer from it. But when he started shaking it, something shines in the logs, which makes him forget about the ball and went there. He found a plastic egg, which he knew that he found Meemaw's ring. Many thoughts came to him, but he then thought of hiding it as it was said the family would break up. The next day, he decided that it was up to him. At lunch, he went to the back of the line where Rowley was sitting and invited him to take a seat with him. As a result, he and Rowley reunited as being friends.
The book ends with him proving that although Susan's saying of friends come and go and family stays forever might be true, he says that his family won't be here when the Mingo Kids chase him on the way to school. He also says that he's pretty sure he and Rowley will probably get in another fight somewhere down the road, but for now, they're good, or maybe at least until when the yearbook comes out, but he figures they can deal with that later on. Since Greg shrunk Rowley's head in the photo with Abigail.
- This is the last book to be released before the series' soft reboot in The Long Haul.
- The Magic Eight Ball appears as an object in this book.
- This book’s theme and the plot have to do with Magic 8 Balls.
- This is the first and only appearance of Magic Eight Balls in the series.
- This book was foreshadowed in the final pages of The Third Wheel.
- Abigail gets back with her old boyfriend, Michael Sampson in this book.
- On March 25, 2013, Jeff Kinney revealed the book's teaser, which had Greg with an umbrella, while Magic Eight Balls fall around him.
- On July 18, 2013, it was announced the cover would be revealed on August 8th, 2013.
- Before the title of the book was revealed, there were several rumors about what the book would be called, including "Life Stress", "Flipped Out", "Spring Bummer" and a fake cover called "School Dilemma".
- This is the second book with the word "Diary" not being Yellow. The first is Dog Days.
- This is the second book where the words "of a Wimpy Kid" are in Orange, the first is The Third Wheel.
- It was rumored for a while that the book would be the final one in the series until Jeff Kinney said that it wouldn't be.
- This is the fourth time that Greg and Rowley have a big falling out. The first was in the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid after Greg got Rowley in trouble about the safety patrols and lied about it, the second being Dog Days where they get into a fight about the mowing business, and the third being in The Ugly Truth when they have a big fight over the events towards the end of Dog Days.
- This is Fregley’s biggest appearance in a book.
- Many things that haven't appeared since the early books (or books outside the main series) reappear in this one:
- Mrs. Norton makes another appearance. She hadn't appeared since Rodrick Rules.
- Alex Aruda makes another appearance too. He hadn't appeared since The Last Straw.
- Several things from Dog Days and Cabin Fever make a reappearance in this book - Sweetie is seen again, as well as the Ladybug Cell Phone.
- Meemaw and Peepaw have previously appeared in the family tree of The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book, and this is their first appearance and mention in the main book series. This was also the first book where a family event takes place at Susan’s side.
- In Greg's math problem, the answer is 62. Equations like that are generally sixth-grade questions. This could mean Greg isn't very good at math at all, even though Greg explains he got A's and B's in all his subjects in his First Quarter.
- However, this book could take place during Greg’s Third Quarter, where he and the other students start to struggle with their school subjects more often.
- On-Page 29, Rowley closes his mouth for the third time in the book series, the second being Page 166 of The Third Wheel, and the first being on Page 58 of Cabin Fever, and the fourth overall, counting Diary of a Wimpy Kid Online.
- Fregley is also seen closing his mouth for the first time in the series. He closes it on Pages 79-81.
- In real life, a Magic Eight Ball typically wouldn't break from being dropped once - they're extremely tough to break in reality (unless you throw it hard enough).
- In this book, you can find Meemaw’s plastic eggs misplaced on some pages. For example, when Fregley and Greg lost the Mingo Kids at the bus stop on Page 83, there is an egg under the mailbox. There are total of 104 hidden eggs in the book. These pictures were used for an Easter Egg Contest in the Wimpy Kid site, where if the winner gets the estimation of the eggs they found correctly, they would get the 8th book signed by Jeff Kinney.
- This is the first book to mention a car brand (Porsche)
- This is the first book in which the page that comes after the inside cover doesn't show a picture from the actual story (a close up of Meckley Mingo’s belt buckle wasn't shown).
- During the Heffley gathering, Gammie is not shown. It is unknown why she did not attend or if she did and Greg didn't mention her.
- This is the third book that Rowley is featured as an antagonist. The first was Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the second was The Ugly Truth.
- This is the first book where blood is shown in the series. Chad Middleton had a bloody nose on Page 172.
- This was the second book after Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth which continued a situation that happened in the ending of its predecessor.
- A promotional game was released online, where Greg must defend himself from flying eight-balls. However, it is now defunct.
- Holly Hills might have made a brief cameo appearance on Page 3.
- This is the fifth time that Greg’s Diary is not mentioned
- This is the second book to have a green cover, the first was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw.
- Greg claims that after what happened at the Valentine's Day Dance in the previous book, almost all the couples in his grade broke up.
- On page 2, Greg opens his locker. However, the lock on his locker is still locked.
- From pages 82-87, 118-120, and 134-137, every character is shown to be way too small.
- This also happens on pages 1, 14, and 74.
- On page 98, whenever an outdoor wedding happens, Aunt Audra's skirt does not seem to end, or it's possible she appears to have skinny legs.
- Rodrick's eyebrows are missing on page 109. However, it was fixed in a re-print.
- On page 91, one of the family pictures had Manny. Manny was supposedly not born yet when Cakey was babysitting Greg.
- On page 13, it says "Rowley's good friend" when it should be "Rowley's a good friend". This was fixed in reprints.
- Greg is too short on page 211.
- On page 129, when Greg thinks about Sweetie farting in Frank's face, Ellie is not shown.
- On page 12, the lines are missing on the page. However, this was fixed in later re-prints of the book.
- On page 214, Greg's mouth appears to be larger.
- From pages 56-73, Greg is shown to be wearing his socks when not wearing his "new" shoes, even when Greg should be wearing shoes.