Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (Maya Van Wagenen)

>>>>  Nº 26 on My 2015 Reading Challenge – A memoir <<<<


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.

I so wanted to like this book, the reviews were great, the premise sounded good, so I dived into this memoir and I was fairly certain that I was going to enjoy it… I didn’t!

Ok, let’s start with the good: Maya is clearly a talented young lady when it comes to writing and I hope she has a bright future ahead of her. The story is sometimes funny enough and sweet, it’s practically impossible not to like Maya’s family or shed a little tear when her professor dies.

However, man, I did not like the project. Maybe it’s because the American Middle School reality is so different from my experience in Portugal… there we have set class of students of around 20 to 30 kids per class in each year, and that class is usually maintained throughout all of Middle School. So, when Maya describes the different popularity ranks, I can’t see it, because it doesn’t exist quite in the same way here…

But still… besides that, it bothers me that she follows a book from the 50’s without adapting it to her reality, because let’s get honest, if your goal is to make a social experiment about popularity, are you really thinking that dressing like a grandma is going to help?! And the first chapter is a 13 year old going on a mostly crazy diet because she’s fat… is she though? Because if you look at her photos from before the diet, that girl should not be losing any weight, none at all!

Moving on. Most of her months are spent working on her exterior, only to find out that the true change comes when she changes her behavior… well, duh! But Ok, those months allowed her to gain confidence, which lead to her being able to change her posture towards other people.

I don’t know. Can’t quite put my finger on it. It just felt weird and forced and not real. I didn’t quite enjoy it…

Rating: 1.5 Stars


4 thoughts on “Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (Maya Van Wagenen)

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