REEL LIT REFLECTIONS: THE PRINCESS DIARIES

The Princess Diaries Book Cover

Title: The Princess Diaries
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Publication Date: 2000
Summary: Mia Thermopolis is pretty sure there’s nothing worse than being a five-foot-nine, flat-chested freshman who is flunking Algebra until Mia finds out her mother is dating her Algebra teacher, and her father reveals he is the crowned prince of Genovia. To make matters worse, Mia still doesn’t have a date for the Cultural Diversity Dance.

Whiny …

While reading The Princess Diaries, I felt like not the targeted audience for this book because I was constantly annoyed by Mia. This is probably because I am an adult and my teen years are so far behind me that I can barely remember how much life revolved around simply trying to fit in at school. Plus, I was an academic superstar and was definitely NOT failing Algebra. Mia seemed to complain and whine about everything, and I just wanted to yell “Just do your f@#$ing homework!” or “Leave that dumb boy alone. He’s nothing but trouble!” Haha! I sound like someone’s mother, and I don’t even have kids.

… But Wise

However, there were other times when Mia was the story’s unlikely voice of reason and provided plenty of gems Mia in some of those diary entries, which are definitely in The Princess Diaries Quotefest. One of my favorite parts of The Princess Diaries was Mia’s essay on the 10 women she most admires. The list included pop culture icons Madonna and Princess Diana and lifelong politician Hillary Rodham Clinton along with Mia’s mom and best friend. Although I was disappointed Mia’s list of women she most admires did not include any women of color, I was more disappointed in Grandmère deeming her list unworthy. That was one of the few times where I sided with Mia.

Mia is the unlikely voice of reason in Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries. Click To Tweet

A Disney-fied Diary

In all transparency, I have seen The Princess Diaries previously, and I remember thoroughly enjoying the movie. While reading the novel, I already knew to expect quite the license being taken with the adaptation. Therefore, to give this adaptation a chance, I won’t criticize all of the little disappointing differences since I knew there was no way certain aspects of book would be present in Disney’s interpretation. Also, if I did that, this adaptation would most certainly get a well deserved failing grade.

Grandmère went from sharp tongued, chain smoker to a charming grandmotherly Queen Mary Poppins. Dad went from the model-dating playboy who lost a testicle to cancer to Ghost Dad providing his daughter sage advice from the great beyond. The general edginess of New York was replaced with the bubblegum sunniness of San Francisco. Mom dating Mia’s Algebra teacher went from significant to nonexistent.

Clumsy Mia from Princess Diaries
Image: Giphy

Above all else, where did the clumsy, nervous, klutzy Mia come from? These tropes used to indicate a nerdy person always comes off annoying. Being nerdy is not synonymous with being clumsy. As a self-proclaimed nerd, I am tired of these dated clichés.

Overall Opinion

I wasn’t really feeling The Princess Diaries, but I do not think I am the intended audience. If I was younger when reading The Princess Diaries, I believe my experience would be more positive. All in all, The Princess Diaries is a good book for a lighthearted reading session, but I would recommend it more for middle grade and young teen readers.

It was simultaneously adorable and annoying to watch Disney’s version of The Princess Diaries. Although I was not wowed by the book, the movie adaptation was more disappointing this time around after reading the book because of all the changes that were made in order to get the Disney seal of approval. I still find the movie to be cute, charming, and very family friendly, but I wish it included more aspects from the novel.

The Final Grade

Laborious Literature: It took me way too long to read this book, but it was mostly due to me not being the intended audience. I did enjoy parts of The Princess Diaries, but not enough to keep reading the series.

Kettle Korn: The Princess Diaries is not a terrible adaptation, but I think Disney’s attempt makes it more cookie cutter and takes away some of the edge and charm of its source material.

Your Turn

So…have you read or watched The Princess Diaries? Do you dream of becoming royalty? Let us know in the comments! |RL

P.S. Want more Princess Diaries? Join the quotefest!

2 Comments

  1. I’m so bothered by almost every teenage girl in popular stories failing math, and the idea that it’s supposed to make the audience relate to her. Sure, academics can be challenging, but let at least one of these teenage girl characters be great at math and science and having a hard time with another course. I always loved math and problem solving and number puzzles, but it didn’t come as some magical gift – I worked at it because of the joy I got in figuring something out.

    And you better believe Katherine Johnson is way up there on my list of top 10 women I admire. One of her teachers designed a special course on the geometry and calculus of space just for her.

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