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Into the Wild Nerd Yonder Hardcover – September 29, 2009

33 customer reviews

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"Gateway to Fourline"
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—For as long as she can remember, Jess has been friends with Bizza and Char. Lately, however, she has been finding that she doesn't have as much in common with them. She has become more interested in math and sewing, while the other two girls only seem interested in partying and hanging around Jess's older brother and his punk band. On their first day of sophomore year, Jess finds that her old friends have decided to go punk. In Bizza's case, this involves shaving her head and pursuing Jess's longtime crush, punk Van, and eventually performing oral sex on him at a party (contracting gonorrhea in the process). Jess decides to move on and becomes involved with a group of Dungeons and Dragons players that includes her new romantic interest, nerdy but adorable Henry. She agonizes over being called a nerd, but comes to realize that friends and how they treat each other are more important than labels. Halpern's descriptions of high-school cliques, particularly the punk posers and the D&D fanatics, are hilarious and believable, and characters who seem to fit particular stereotypes suddenly show unexpected traits. The story's theme could easily become clichéd, but this novel is particularly strong in showing how teen friendships evolve and sometimes die away, and how adolescents redefine themselves.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ END

From Booklist

Jess loves audiobooks, sewing skirts, and the first day of school. She even gets along with her family, including Barrett, her rock-god older brother. She is, in short, a nerd, and feels immediate dread when she starts to grow apart from her two best friends, Bizza and Char, who underwent a punk makeover to fit in with Barrett’s band. After Bizza goes after Jess’ longtime crush and winds up with an STD, Jess ends the friendship. Karma, like Bizza, can be a bitch. With no clique to hang out with, Jess is lulled into the clutches of the Dungeons & Dragons crowd—and finds herself falling for one of them! Halpern (Get Well Soon, 2007) realistically writes about teens coming to terms with their coming-of-age. Jess is anxious about embracing her inner nerdlinger, but emerges from the transformation secure in her self worth and seeking out the people who will support her. Reinvention is rarely so delightfully nerdy. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; 1 edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312382529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312382520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JULIE HALPERN is the author of five young adult novels and one picture book for young readers. Maternity Leave is her first novel for adults. Prior to her life as full-time mom and author, Julie was a school librarian. In her imaginary spare time, she enjoys traveling, watching television for grown-ups, and eating baked goods. Julie lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, and their two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's Jessie's sophomore year of high school, and all the wrong things in her life are changing. While her hair is still brown, straight, and boring, her friends are nearly unrecognizable as punk poseurs and her older brother has shaved off his Mohawk and traded his punk band scene for dating last year's Prom Princess. When Jessie's supposed best friend goes too far with Jessie's long-time curst, Jessie finally has enough. She decides she needs new friends. In an attempt to discover the social niche she fits into, Jessie unexpectedly finds herself hanging out with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd. Sure, Jessie has always loved math and rather enjoyed studying, but does she really want to actually be declared a nerd by adopting these role players as her new friends? Is there any way to recover from being nerdiest of them all--and does Jessie even want to?

I fell in love with Halpern's witty and utterly true to life writing in Get Well Soon and was thrilled to see it continue in the cleverly titled Into the Wild Nerd Yonder. Halpern has a talent for portraying adolescent social situations in a way most readers will be able to relate to. I couldn't believe at times how accurate Halpern was in her analysis of high school cliques, particularly the popular crowd; she includes little facts I thought no one else thought about. It also helps that Jessie is such a likable character, not only for her sense of humor and other quirky traits, but also because she has to deal with teen year crises such as best friends turning into disloyal strangers, a protective and beloved older brother going away to college soon, and confusion and self-doubt over liking and fitting in with people she used to negatively label as "nerds" and "dorks.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DF VINE VOICE on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book because the voice was very realistic. A smart kid who is struggling to find herself yet is not really deluded by the shenanigans of others around her. A couple of friends who show their true colors as users. A family that loves each other and talks to each other, and kids who are trustworthy and trusted by their parents. We often get so wrapped up in our dysfunctions as a society we forget that normalcy is really out there, lol! And this book was refreshing to me because it showed me a slice of that.

I loved how our protagonist is in a caring family with realistic interactions. I was strongly reminded of my own experiences growing up--especially the older brother with whom she gets along so incredibly well. All too often, it seems to me, YA books portray siblings as adversarial and snarky, when my personal experience and observations have been that most families have a strong bond and care about each other. So this story is a refreshing one.

The one quibble some might have is that there is a bit of cussing in this book. I consider this book only mildly blue-tinted in comparison to actual teen speak; but I felt the language worth a mention for some others who are particular in that regard.

A fast read, and an enjoyable and heartwarming one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ars Legendi on July 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
This has been lurking around in my to-read list, but after meeting the author and discussing the different editions of Dungeons and Dragons with her, I had to bump it up to the top. I'm decidedly outside this book's target audience, but ended up relating to it anyway.

The most interesting thing about this story is its determination to blend a surprisingly accurate portrayal of playing D&D with a fairly standard "affluent teen girl has affluent teen girl problems" romantic comedy. These are two audiences that one wouldn't think would intersect all that often, but that seems to be the point of this book. Jessie Sloan is the quirky and interesting girl that has never had to really stop and consider how quirky and interesting she is, due to the conventional popularity of her big brother and circle of friends. When everybody shifts their social colors without her, though, she finds herself alone and insecure. If she can get past her first bonafide identity crisis, she might find true kinship where she would have never thought to look: among the kids that dress funny, act oddly, and spend their free time rolling characters and creating campaigns.

This is not a book to read if you are looking for a deep examination of teen angst, or an earth-shattering romance. This book maintains a very light-hearted tone, and even the more mature moments that deal with sexuality are handled with a casual touch that is, ultimately, quite realistic (since adults do a lot more hand-wringing over that kind of stuff than teens themselves do, like it or not).

I think the reason I got so caught up in reading this despite not being particularly interested in the romantic travails of a teenage girl is that the characters feel fleshed out and alive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Candice on December 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A rare YA book - the main character and her brother are neither hostile to each other nor engaged in self-destructive behavior, and both parents are present and supportive (in fact, Jessie, Barrett, and the Sloan parents are a welcome reprieve from the array of depressing families crowding YA fiction). Jessie's not my favorite character ever, but I like her witty, conversational voice. She's certainly a believable teenager - always wondering what others think of her superior math skills, or worried about the likely drop in her social standing if she leaves the punk "poseurettes" to befriend nerds and band geeks. And she's way too preoccupied with a guy she knows is a jerk but likes anyway.

Fortunately, none of that actually stops her from acing honors English and precalc, spending her time sewing cute skirts while her inconsiderate friends stalk older boys, or finally drifting away from said toxic friends to try new things and new people.

Also, I can relate to visiting D&D sessions and having NO idea what's going on.
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