Popular : Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
by Van Wagenen, Maya

Betty Cornell
Introduction (or how this whole thing came to be)7(8)
Figure Problems
Modeling Tricks
Skin Problems & Makeup
Clothes & What to Wear Where
Good Grooming & Away From Home
Money (How to Earn Extra) & On the Job
Popular Attitude: Look Pretty-Be Pretty, Are You Shy? & Personality
It's a Date & Be a Hostess

" A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen 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 tobegin 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 sixteen years old. When she was eleven, her family moved to Brownsville, Texas, the setting of Popular? When not hunched over a desktop writing, Maya enjoys reading, British television, and chocolate. She now lives with her parents and two siblings in rural Georgia. She is a junior in high school but still shares a room with her sixth grade brother. Remarkably, they have not yet killed each other.

It's not an unfamiliar story: a girl on the lower end of the popularity scale decides to reinvent herself. But Maya Van Wagenen, tired of being a "social outcast" at her Texas middle school, is far from fictional. The then-eighth-grader unearthed a 1950s guide to popularity and underwent an experiment: to follow all the instructions in the book, no matter how outdated, and document the results for a year. So, dressed in pearls and girdles, Maya begins. It's a touching-and touchingly honest-memoir, as Maya navigates the pitfalls of the eighth grade and her experiment. Though she receives a fair amount of teasing, she does ultimately become more popular as she grows out of her comfort zone, takes an interest in other people, and learns that simple kindnesses are the most effective way to reach others. Maya's voice is fresh and frank, and her experiences at a middle school near the Mexican border provide an often overlooked perspective. Fans of Meg Cabot's How to Be Popular (2006) will be interested to see how this conceit plays out in real life. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

An interesting and earnest memoir of a social experiment conducted by a contemporary eighth-grader who follows the advice in a popularity guide written for 1950s-era teens and blogged the experience for one school year. Van Wagenen is the oldest child in her loving, quirky family. A talented writer, she's funny, thoughtful and self-effacing. She is also, as she describes it, part of the "Social Outcast group, the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be there." Over the year, she discovers a great deal, most notably that despite its sounding a bit pat, popularity is "about who you are, and how you treat others." Teens will readily identify with her candid descriptions of social dynamics at her middle school. Many of the scenarios that arise from her adherence to the suggestions in Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide are effectively played to comic effect, such as wearing a girdle or pearls and white gloves. Vignettes about her life, including her grief over the death of a beloved teacher, her horror at hearing the news of a boy killed at a nearby school after he brings in a pellet gun and her excitement over speaking to Betty Cornell by telephone, provide balance. A fascinating and unusual slice-of-life work whose humor will best be appreciated by younger teens. (Memoir. 12-16) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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