Title: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
Author: Maya van Wagenen
Genre: Young Adult, Memoir
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: April 15th 2014
Hardcover: 339 Pages
My Rating: ★★★★.5
A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen
Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular?
The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.
Maya is around age 13 – 14 when this book starts off. She is an aspiring writer, about to begin grade eight. At this age, she is still trying to figure out herself. You know when you were this age and you constantly tried to maybe be like other people. This is the direction this book heads.
Maya and her father are in a thrift store one afternoon and they stumble upon a book from the 50’s; ‘Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide’. After they purchase this book, Maya skims it and decides that she is going to follow the book chapter by chapter and record it – in which is what Popular is. Maya is on the road to finding popularity.
Popular is recordings of Maya following this book chapter by chapter, month by month. Maya tries out Figure Problems, Hair, Modeling Tricks, Skin Problems & Makeup, Clothes, etc. . Keep in mind that Betty Cornell’s guide is set in the 50s changes things because Popular takes place in the 21st century.
While following this guide, Maya has many different responses. Some from her best friend, Kenzie and others from her classmates. Kenzie is mentioned on bus rides and I really liked her. She was a tough kid, she was hard to figure out. But, her comments on Maya’s changes were priceless. Bullying is involved in this memoir and a great message is entailed. Maya is a very brave girl and her actions in this memoir are truly amazing.
This book will definitely warm your heart and take you back to your middle school years. If you’re starting high school or middle school, this is a book that you should read. I wish I had this book during that time, it’s the perfect novel that I think should be a required reading in school.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It was a fast read and had an interesting concept. I’m a sucker for memoirs and I just loved this one!
My rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars because I just didn’t want to give it a full five-star. I really wished we saw more of her friend, Kenzie and I felt like she was only there as a response on her new look/changes.
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