Ernie and his friend Will are outcasts at their school, teased mercilessly every day for being different and for Ernie, overweight. They have each other, so they manage to endure it, but Will especially hates those that torment them. Then, when Will's younger brother dies tragically, he is plagued with guilt and anger. Suddenly, it's not as easy to shrug off the teasing, and Ernie is left to observe as Will cracks and desperately tries to fight back the only way he knows how.
This strikingly realistic book is told in journal-format from Ernie's perspective. It's descriptive in all of the appropriate areas, but otherwise is blunt, concise, and to the point. Ernie's conversational tone makes the story easy to read and become invested into the story, even for reluctant readers. The male point of view is done well, and it makes you quite sympathetic towards Ernie. His struggles with bullying and losing weight, despite the opposition he faces at home, and his confusion at how to help Will, and his happy moments are all very authentic and heart-wrenching, especially as Will gets into more and more trouble despite Ernie's attempts at helping him. This book has been compared to Jennifer Brown's Hate List, but it is different in the fact that Hyde focuses more on what exactly would drive a teen to the breaking point and how what others might consider teasing and simple joking could have such an intense and damaging effect on someone. Diary of a Witness is yet another excellent, attention-grabbing read from Catherine Ryan Hyde.
Cover Comments: I do like this cover! It's very suggestive and conveys the idea of time running out, a build-up to some major blow-up. Very inventive and attention-catching!
Review copy received from Knopf.