Title: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
Author: Maya Van Wagenen
Original Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Original Price: $18.99 (Hardcover)
My Price: Free (Borrowed)
Number of Pages: 272
Quick Synopsis: Not too long ago, 13 year old Maya Van Wagenen found a vintage book, written by Betty Cornell, amongst his belongings. It was a guide to being popular. Maya’s mother gave her the idea of following the advice in this book from the 1950’s and writing about it. A type of social experiment. We get to follow her along this roller coaster of a journey to finding her teenage self.
Spoilers up ahead…OBVS.
First of all..I most admit that I am entirely jealous of Maya Van Wagenen for this genius idea. The book itself is well written, and not “just for a teenager”. It was very genuinely well written. I could relate to Maya on so many levels. She is part latina, went to a really sketchy middle school, and could never fit quite in. The portion of her life that she captured in this book is moving. She deals with death, deception, and bullying. As well as encouragement, progress, and happiness. She gains a tremendous amount of encouragement from a past teacher. He says beautiful things about her and her future. He was certain that she was going to be a famous author, and she did it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around to witness it. I have to admit that I actually cried. He was just so proud of her and her writing and it was just so inspiring to see a healthy mentor/apprentice relationship that amounted to exactly what they wanted. It’s. Just. Beautiful. I cannot stress this. The relationships she ends up making with the students at her school are something to marvel at.
Here’s a little insight into my life. I’m not popular. I wasn’t popular in high school either. Nor was I in middle school. I wasn’t bullied to a full extent. But I did get made fun of for my ear (my right ear is folded a little on the top). In middle school, I was lucky enough to make a couple friends in 7th grade and again, I was lucky that 2 of them, went to my high school. I was bold in 9th grade and spoke to one girl, who deep down inside, I will always silently thank, introduced me to her friends. From that day when I was 13 years old, I’ve held the same group of friends (I’m 22 now). In college, I have thus far, made ZERO friends. So the fact the Maya stepped out of her shell and talked to all the people who had before, made fun of her, and bullied her, was both perplexing and inspiring.
I wish I could be more like this wonderfully versed 15 year old girl. So Maya, if you ever (for some odd reason) find yourself at Starkiller Reads and read this, I would like you to know that you are a role model, you are someone to look up to, and I will try my hardest ( when I go back to school) to make friends, like you did.