Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Well that was glorious.  The girl can write, y’all!

What does a popularity guide published 1951 have to do with being popular today?  A lot more than you would think.

When Maya’s dad finds Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide in a closet he’s cleaning out, Maya is inspired to try an experiment.  She decides to spend each month of her eighth grade year focusing on a different set of Betty’s tips in an attempt to take her to the top of the popularity scale from a -1.  She starts out simple, changing how she eats and focusing on how she looks, but soon she is deep in the social turmoil of sitting at different lunch tables.

There is a lot going on in this book.  Maya loses someone close to her.  She talks about the turmoil of living in a town close to the Mexican border where drug cartels battle within sight of her father’s office window.  She talks about school lock downs and the fear that comes form having to hide in a closet at school.

Still, all of that aside, Maya’s experience of eighth grade was like taking a step back in time.  I laughed.  I cringed.  I giggled.


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