Book Nook: Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Nicole Poitras, A & E Editor, Blogger

In her witty memoir, 16-year-old Maya Van Wagenen tells of her eighth grade quest to go from socially awkward nerd to popularity princess; but she doesn’t do so in the typical fashion. At least, not in modern fashion.

Maya unearths a popularity guide from the 1950’s written by then-model Betty Cornell. With nothing to lose, she makes it her mission to follow every step of the guide to see if its vintage wisdom could help her climb the middle school social ladder.

Maya’s diary-like accounts take her through diets, the perfection of her posture, and an attempt to squeeze into some bloomers. As time goes on and Maya’s diversion from normality becomes more obvious to her classmates, she begins to turn heads – and not all of the reactions are as negative as she assumes. As her experiment draws to a close, she finds that maybe popularity isn’t just about how you look.

I first gravitated to this book because of the fact that Maya is no older than I am. I was so inspired, I just had to take it home. The story quickly became my obsession over the summer. Maya’s writing is quick, fresh, and relatable. Some of the stories she tells are hilarious; I’ve never laughed so much while reading a book in my entire life! Not only that, but her story is so uplifting, and puts the drama of middle school (and even high school) into perspective. While the book is geared more toward females, I recommend it for anyone who feels as though they are not “popular,” or anyone who is dealing with the pressure to change who they are for the sake of popularity. The message of the story will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page – in fact, as I write this review, I’m wearing my own string of pearls.