Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mini Review: Popular by Maya van Wagenen

Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
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.
I have never been part of the popular group, nor do I expect to ever be. I'm too awkward, shy, reserved, etc to be. Most of the time, I struggle with liking myself, let alone expecting/thinking other people (to) like me. I had heard about Popular last year, around the time it came out, and I heard that many people loved it, so I finally decided to check it out. I wasn't disappointed!

Maya is quirky and the whole situation she puts herself in for a school year is definitely interesting. I love how she showed that real life can have just as much drama as all the drama written about in books. Oftentimes, what happens in books really does feel very different from my experiences, and sometimes, I wonder why people don't see that you don't need to be in a romantic relationship to have drama. Maya's story is really unique and so new, and I really enjoyed reading the book. Though slow at times, for the most part, it read like real life, and I loved that quality about it.

The writing was a little simplistic for what I was expecting and there were some gaps that I wish had been filled in, but otherwise, I was really satisfied with her story. I loved the connections and some of the modern takes on Betty's advice. I loved her take on popularity, though I don't know that I necessarily agree, at least not from my experience at school and thinking about who the popular kids at my school are. But I've heard popularity is different later in life than it is in high school. Thank goodness. Anyway, I would definitely recommend Popular, especially for those that feel alone, unlikeable, unappreciated, unpopular.
Maya Van Wagenen: Website | Twitter


  1. This sounds exactly like something I would like! I love it when a main character is quirky and the book sounds like real life :-)
    Thanks for the review Jessica!

    Em @

  2. I thought this memoir was adorable, from the illustrated cover to the closing chapter. I agree with you; Maya's story is so unique that it made for an interesting read. Great review!


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