Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen


After finding a teenage popularity guide, Maya decides to try out the advice during her 8th grade year in the hopes that it will bring her the social status she desires. However, her sudden shift into wearing pearls, hats, and sitting with strangers doesn’t quite have the effect Maya hoped. Instead, she finds herself even more of an outcast (if that’s possible). Popular is Maya’s chronicle of her year following 1950’s model, Betty Cornell’s, life advice, and the successes, failures, and changes in perspectives that advice brings.

I loved this book so much!! At first I wasn’t sure any book could top the other YALSA nonfiction nominees for 2015, but this one really was the best. What made it so great for me was the fact that Maya wrote it herself. I’m pretty tough on teen authors, mostly because I feel they are too young for their writing skills to really have developed (that takes serious time). Most also put their name on the book, but have actually used a ghostwriter for most of the writing — I don’t like that. Maya is different. At 15, she’s already an amazing author and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Popular really has it all — it’s heartfelt without being overly “mushy”, Maya learns valuable lessons without hitting you over the head with them or being “preachy”, and, above all, she gains entirely new perspectives. This book would be great for any teen to read (not just girls!); Maya does an incredible job of capturing what it’s like to survive being a teenager in a world obsessed with “popularity”. Go read it!

*Rating: 5/5

*YALSA Award for Nonfiction for Young Adults, Winner, 2015

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.


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