Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya van Wagenen

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 272

Series: NA

Source: Library

Genres: Nonfiction, Advice, Memoir

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House)

Publication date: April 15, 2014

First impression

I got this book last Christmas as a gift from very dear friends. With a line found in the jacket I was hooked:

Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?  
You see, I love pearls.
This was a very sweet read, and it felt like it was indeed written by a 14 year old girl, and I mean that in a good way. Sure, she had editors, but her voice is obviously there, she reminded me of my little cousin (she is 15 now) and her way to see the world. It reminded me of 15yo me and how all I wanted at a certain point is to be one of the “it” girls. I thought I was going to be rolling my eyes often when looks and appearance would be discussed, and I did roll them a couple of times, but not as much as I expected. Maya finishes with a very sweet, endearing tone that made me want to hug her.

Final thoughts

Maya van Wagenen considers herself to be in the lowest rank of popularity in her school, but when she founds Betty Cornell’s teenage popularity guide she decides to try a little experiment: she will follow the books advice (keep in mind this is a book written in the 1950s) and see if that takes her from top to bottom. Going from hair, to posture, to diet, to attitude, Maya sticks to her plan, without telling anyone out if her family. This book is her memoir of that year.

I had my first problem with the book when the first chapter was dedicated to figure problems… remember she was a 14yo at the time she was writing this and thinking of someone that young dieting was not easy to swallow, even if her doctor said she was “borderline obese” (for the record, in the pictures she does NOT look borderline obese). But my anxiety went down knowing that 1. She wasn’t obsessing about the diet 2. The diet, while reducing on fat foods, still kept a fair amount of protein, vegetables and fruits, and most importantly 3. She was doing it with her parent’s supervision and not taking it to extremes. Other problems are probably related with the fact that I am no longer a teenager, so let’s not mull over that for too long.

I enjoyed the little bits of her life thrown in with the experiment, this is what made it feel like a real teen diary. I loved how she took a bit of knowledge of each chapter, of each “challenge” and particularly how, when she started talking to a lot of the different clicks, you can see that she is growing more and more comfortable in her skin. And that is why I would recommend this book to my little cousin…and for everyone looking for a short, endearing book that would make you feel better at the end of it…and walk with a better posture ;)

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