by Maya Van Wagenen
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
This is the true story of an eighth grade girl who finds a book from the '50s explaining how to be popular. Maya considers herself a "social outcast" at her school, and she wants to change that. She embarks on a quest for her last year of middle school to become popular. Each month she picks a chapter or three from the book, and applies it to her life in hopes of learning how to become popular.
Despite what the name of this book suggests, this book is not about becoming popular. At the start that is what Maya wanted, but by then end of the book she was just striving for becoming the best she could be and acceptance. It was not just people accepting her, but instead her accepting everyone into her life. This book really resonated with me because I felt like I knew Maya. She seemed like she could be every girl except she was just a great person. You should tell from the first few pages that she was a genuinely good person, and she just wanted to be accepted at the school rather than a "social outcast." Her odyssey was not about becoming popular, but by using the tips that the how-to-popular book gave her, she became a much more approachable and sociable person.
I really liked Maya as a person (I was going to say character, but this is nonfiction and she is real). She was sincerely nice to everyone despite them being awful to her. She had no reason to be a bitch because she was not that type of person. I am going to tell you that she was funny too. She had a very sarcastic humor that I really appreciated, and I think that she just seemed like a person that everyone would get along with. I think that there were many times in this book where I actually laughed out loud because she was so witty.
This book just made me happy. It gave me a very hopeful and inspirational perspective on life. I have to applaud Maya for the amount of confidence that she showed because she was an eighth grader, no eighth graders that I know are as confident as she was. You could tell she was confident because she dressed up in a full '50s getup for multiple days to school. Respect. This book gave off happiness because it showed you that no matter what, if you want to do something, you can. You don't need to have a guide book to do things that are out of your comfort zone, just do it!
Throughout this book there were pictures of Maya, and it really helped add on to the reading experience because it show you the transformation of Maya as a person. At the start she looked very shy, but by the end of this book, you could see a visible change in her and she looked actually happy. There were also excerpts from the how-to-popular book, and that also helped add onto the book since it showed you the exact words of Betty Cornell, the author of the how-to-popular book. There were also a few diagrams that were not completely necessary, but were completely hilarious.
I just want to end this with a thank you to this book. It was very inspirational, and especially so because it was true. It was not a story that Maya made up, oh no, it was something that she actually did, and that makes me really believe that things can change from bad to great.
Have you read this book? Lets discuss it in the comments.