Here's the thing. Normally I don't like reading people's diaries. People are rarely as interesting or as clever as they think they are, and packaging something that was written for your private introspection and selling it to the public usually results in broken hearts all around. I know some people don't feel comfortable rating memoirs because it's someone's life... but at the same time, as soon as you slap a price tag on that little piece that you're selling, it becomes a consumable good, in a sense. At least in that framing.
DEAR DIARY is actually pretty decent for what it is and what it's trying to do. I think what makes it better is that Arfin posts her diaries as excerpts and then follows up with commentary from her now, often interviewing the people she was writing about and asking them why they did what they did when they were kids, and what they're doing now, and asking for their perspective, etc. It reminds me of this video I saw on YouTube where this person tracked down people who unfriended them on Facebook and then asked why they unfriended them? And I was like THANKS I HATE IT, but I cringe-watched it anyway.
What I liked best about this book though is the portrayal of the '90s and '00s alt culture, and what it felt like to be a grungy, edgy kid who didn't quite fit in. The pop-culture references were so much fun and even though I couldn't relate to the drug stuff at all, I loved how this felt like a period piece. It's like a weird and fucked-up time capsule and I think I might quasi-stan.
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars