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


Popular is a Young Adult non fiction (my first!), which is actually an eighth grade girl’s diary, where she documented a social experiment. It’s recommended for fans of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and my rating is 9.5 stars.

Summary (Goodreads): 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 Van Wagenen is clearly very talented. She tells her story with humor and honesty. Getting her book published at age fifteen is impressive as it is, but with this memoir I can see how it happened.

Maya Van Wagenen presents different ideas about what popularity really means, and how to achieve it. She’s inspiring for young writers, as well as to shy teens who wish to be more outgoing. She had a great idea for an experiment, and she stuck with it no matter that challenge, even though some of the things she had to do were strange and humorous. I think anyone and everyone should read the story of the shy kid who just wanted people to love her, and how she discovered after many different attempts how to become popular – the real way.


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