POPULAR: The Highlight of My Entire Middle School Existence

Title: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
Author: Maya Van Wagenen
Release Date: 04/15/2015
Reviewed by: Haley

Are you popular?  Fifteen-year-old Maya Van Wagenen strongly believes that she isn’t. Well, it’s less of a belief and more of a “no question” kind of thing. So when Maya stumbles upon an old popularity guide from the 1950’s, she is pretty sure it’s divine intervention. Or something like that. Maya focuses on one aspect of the book each month of the school year and documents her climb up the social ladder. Well, more “standstill,” and less “climb.” Newsflash, girdles aren’t the best way to become popular in the 21st century! So, can Maya actually manage to become popular? And what does “being popular” even mean, anyway?

“Popularity is more than looks. It’s not clothes, hair, or even possessions. When we let go of these labels, we see how flimsy and relative they actually are. Real popularity is kindness and acceptance. It is about who you are, and how you treat others.”

Five stars!! Fun fact: Maya is real! Popular is a memoir, and Maya Van Wagenen published it when she was fifteen. Whoa. Can we talk about goals here? In English class, I was assigned to read a memoir of my choosing and write a comedic paragraph or two on it. Well, my “comedic paragraph” turned into a fictional presidential nomination for Maya! That’s how much I like her. I think reading this book and writing that assignment were the highlights of my entire middle school existence. If only it could have been a real nomination. Maybe someday . . .

This book is amazing for, like, a kabillion reasons, but my main obsession with Popular is how realistic it is. Maya doesn’t sugarcoat her story. She makes friends and loses some. She gets bullied, but she also stands up for herself. Maya does a complete 180 — not only in her social status, but also in her self-confidence level. But it’s not all rain clouds and sad puppy dogs. Maya is hilarious! Her comments on the school social system are so spot on (you would think she actually attends my school), and her popularity tips are geek gold. I am super excited to see what else Maya publishes!  I would read just about anything she’s written.

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