Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Review: Popular - Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: 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 humour and grace, Maya's journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.
Popular isn't the kind of book I'd normally read. Memoirs aren't the type of book that catch my eye unless they're about something I'm specifically interested in, but Popular proved to be a very worthwhile book. I read it in one sitting, flying through the pages and wishing it were longer, only to get to the end and being tempted to start from the beginning again. There's a lot of wit and wisdom within its pages, and it's such an inspiring book for teenagers. I'll be donating my copy to the local high school library in the hopes that it'll help somebody who needs it!
Maya Van Wagenen had never been popular. She didn't have that many friends and didn't stand out from the crowd. It's only when she found a popularity guide written in the 1950s that her life really started to change. Her confidence grew, her social circle expanded and she found that middle school wasn't the worst place to be after all.
Maya followed Betty Cornell's Teenage Popularity Guide exactly, spending a month on each section. Everything is covered from weight to fashion to how to make friends, and Maya never once gave up. She really is a fantastic role model for teenage girls everywhere - the very fact she even embarked on this experiment in the first place is testament to her character and how she lives her life. I certainly never would have done anything like that but really I wish I could have read this book when I was fourteen!
There's not much else to say about Popular without going into too much detail and ruining everything for prospective readers. All I will say is that it's probably the most inspirational book I've ever read aimed at teenagers, and what's even better is that it was written by a teenager. An actual real, honest, warm and funny teenager who knows exactly what it's like to be that age and to go through those disastrous but exciting years. I really loved it and hope it helps other young people in a similar situation - it's never too late to change yourself for the better!