on April 21st 2015
Genres: Friendship, Girls & Women, Nonfiction, Social Issues
Amazon // The Book Depository
Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular? Maya Van Wagenen is about to find out.
Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at “pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.
The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence, along with a better understanding of what it means to be popular.
i read so many raved reviews about POPULAR, so i was very excited when i finally picked it up. but it also meant i had very high expectations. for the most part, these expectations were met. the story follows maya (a real life girl!!! you go, maya!) as she discovers a book on “how to be popular” published in the 1950s. as a social experiment, maya decides to follow this book and it’s guides to see how it would react in the world we live in today. super interesting plot? check! the story is told in a day-by-day diary format, and we slowly but surly watch maya change and grow.
i found the beginning of the novel a bit slow. there wasn’t much going on, but that was mostly because maya decides to start things slow. if i were her, i’d do the same thing. she divided each chapter of betty cornell’s popularity guide (aka the book maya was following) into each month of the school year. we start with basic stuff like figure problems, hair, makeup, clothing, and the like. there’s not much going on because we don’t see a true change in maya herself, but more in appearance. she gets a bit more confident with wearing things out of the ordinary (pearls and a pantyhose, anyone?) and applying eye makeup, but other than that the first half was uneventful.
“But it turns out most people are waiting to be discovered too.”
– pg. 191
as the climax began to build, i could see maya truly coming out of her shell. there was one specific chapter that i thought was the “turning point” of the novel. View Spoiler »when maya talks to and approaches each and every person of her school, i was so proud of her. i can’t imagine doing something like that myself and i will continue to admire her. when she realizes everyone is the same and there is no “popularity pyramid” i grew so inspired. « Hide Spoiler my thoughts and opinions on the novel skyrocketed and made everything much more enjoyable and worth it. it was amazing to watch maya’s character develop and grow because she’s an actual person.
by the end, i was completely moved and inspired by maya’s story
popular was one of my first nonfiction novels i read, and i was surprised by how much i enjoyed myself. all in all, the ending made up for the somewhat slow beginning. there wasn’t anything intense going on in the plot since the events are nonfiction, but they were very moving and inspiring. it’s a quick read that i’d recommend to anyone who’s looking for something light and refreshing.