Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck is the 8th book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid (series) following The Third Wheel. After finishing the seventh book, Jeff Kinney and his wife announced that he was working on the eighth book. On Thursday August 8 2013, the cover's color, title and a synopsis were revealed, and the book was released on Tuesday, November 5 2013.
- Greg Heffley
- Rowley Jefferson (Major Antagonist)
- Rodrick Heffley
- Abigail Brown (Main Antagonist)
- Manny Heffley
- Frank Heffley
- Susan Heffley
Greg Heffley is upset over losing Rowley Jefferson as his best friend, 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 it gets to the point where Rowley isn't allowed his own opinions anymore, but 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. Also, Rowley is the only one who can bail Greg out of the fact his English teacher, Mr. Blakely, only accepts essays written in cursive, but also, usually, Rowley scouts ahead and checks 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 whilst walking to school. And then Abigail starts using Rowley to carry her books. Greg used to use Rowley to do the same thing.
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 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. Then he explains the problems in his lunch room, 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 which 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 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 a 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 he or she was found being kind to someone else and these could be exchanged for prizes and the class with the most Hero Points would get extra recess at the end of the school year. Then the kids started counterfeiting it and Erick Glick got hands on a sheet of it and photocopied it and sold it for money. Soon the teachers got suspicious that even the worst kids got loads of them, so they started printing them in different colors of paper but that didn't work, and they started a rule that only a limited amount can be used at a time.Even the children who got more than that amount legitimately were given detentions, which Greg thinks is a shame. The school then canceled the system after discovering the base of the children who made fake hero points. Greg then complains toSusan 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 late to. Greg noticed that there was 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 which were too big for his feet and people laughed at him. Susan told Greg that he should go out and find 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 train him to be the friend he wants. Greg though 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 they are going to visit her family.
Greg then explain his mother's side of family and her sisters: Gretchen, Audra, Veronica and Cakey. Aunt Cakey hated children and never married, she would not trust the kids of breaking anything when they came. When she babysat Greg, she told Greg to not touch the iron, but Greg couldn't stop thinking about it, so he went downstairs and touched it, and he got a second-degree burn. Aunt Gretchen had two wild twin boysMalvin and Malcolm who were wild and needed child leashes and had a lot of pets. Aunt Veronica barely appears in any of the family reunions and would appear by video conferences and Aunt Audra believed in crystal balls and horoscopes and would ask her psychic before making decisions. 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 became really overweight after Gramma overfed him. Greg explains how he used to enjoy Easter when his great-grandmother 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 their and find as many eggs as they can. But she started putting weird things in the eggs in her later years. After Meemaw passed away, at her funeral Susan noticed her diamond ring was missing.
It was pretty precious and worth a lot, and 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 he didn't like eating there since he thought it was too formal. 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 Marciewould 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 thought it was in one of the plastic 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 a limitations of his Magic 8 Ball, but doesn't give it up. One day, Greg's mother 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 which exactly looked like the one he had as a small child.
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 getting 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 which had sleeves with mittens, basically a onesie made of 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 the Vice Principal Roy who later called his mother. His mother tried to defend Greg by saying that the magic 8 ball was just a "toy" and was harmless, but Mr. Roy said that Greg's grades have been deteriorating and gives him a warning that if they don't improve he would be at summer school. Greg then gets worried about summer school and talks about it and how he gets worried about his grade. 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 were 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. Later, Greg explains that he is glad to not go to Erick's route because a teacher caught all of them who were in the storage room and gave all of them detention for the rest of the year, and possibly forces them to go to summer school.
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 asleep. Although this happened, Greg actually enjoyed himself throughout the day since he had turned in his science project.
As for Rowley, he felt lonely as Abigail only got with him to make her boyfriend Michael Sampson jealous and they got back together. Greg tried to come to Rowley as he tried to find another friend using the station, but Mr. Nern beat him to it. Greg started to realize that they are better off not being friends. To make sure he might be right, he goes to his grandmother'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 an 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 was true, he says that his family won't be here when the Mingo kids chase him on the way to school. He also explains that he and Rowley can be friends for a long time, or maybe at least until when the yearbook comes out.
- This book is the eighth one in the series and that the Magic Eight Ball appears as an object.
- This book was first announced in the final pages of The Third Wheel.
- Abigail gets back with her old boyfriend, Michael Sampson in this book
- On 25 March 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" is in orange.
- 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 third 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 one, gets a fight about the moving system with Rowley and two has a a big fight with each other. 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.
- Meemaw and Peepaw had previously appeared in the family tree of the extended 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.
- When Greg rattles the plastic egg near the end of the book, his mouth appears to be larger.
- 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 in page 58 of Cabin Fever, and the fifth overall, counting the online version.
- Fregley is seen closing his mouth for the first time in the series. He closes it on page 79, twice on 80 and also on page 81.
- In real life, a magic 8 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 Mingos at the bus stop on page 83, there is an egg under the mailbox. There are actually over 100 of these hidden eggs in the book. These pictures were used for a 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 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).
- This is the third book that Rowley is an antagonist. The first was the the first one, second was The Ugly Truth and this is the third one.
- This is the first book where blood is shown in the series, shown where Chad Middleton had a bloody nose.
- 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.
- When it mentions that Manny had ten stuffed animals only nine are shown.
- From page 1, 14, 74, 82-87,118-120 & 134-137, Every character appears to be way too small.