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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek: A Memoir Paperback – April 15, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (April 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141353252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141353258
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maya Van Wagenen is fifteen years old. When she was eleven, her family moved to Brownsville, Texas, the setting of Popular. When not hunched over a desktop writing, Maya enjoys reading, British television, and chocolate. She now lives with her parents and two siblings in rural Georgia. She is a sophomore in high school but still shares a room with her sixth-grade brother. Remarkably, they have not yet killed each other.

Customer Reviews

This book should be required reading for middle school girls!
Marida C. Salinas
Though your intended journey may not have started out as such, it's nice to know there are honorable and brave people like you looking for the good in others.
Joanna Barber
She has a way of telling a story that makes you feel like you are experiencing it right along with her.
Jill Reed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jeann @ Happy Indulgence on April 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This review appears on Happy Indulgence at happyindulgencebooks.com

Popular is an incredible, hilarious, and achingly honest and emotional memoir about popularity. It asks and answers, what is the definition of being popular? Is it to have the most friends, be the most respected and known at school, is it to be the prettiest or the one that is best at sports?

Maya Van Wagenen’s journey is a real life social experiment and she’s written her day to day accounts of following a vintage guide to popularity - Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide. Each chapter, she follows a different part of the Guide, and slowly works her way up to the major changes she’ll have to make. It’s sprinkled with charming photos of her and her family, and Maya’s honesty, wit and bravery shines through her words and her photos.

At the start, Maya is an insecure teenager at the bottom of her schools’ social ladder. She feels fat and ugly and gets teased and bullied by countless people at school. Seeing her transformation into a confident, self-assured girl who makes a mark on her peers was extraordinary. From changing her hair everyday, to wearing vintage 1950s gear to school, to sitting at different tables dominated by the different subgroups at school, nothing is out of bounds in her quest for popularity. No matter how embarrassing it is, Maya is to be admired for her bravery and devotion to Betty Cornell’s advice.

The glimpses of the rough neighbourhood on the Mexican border that Maya lived in were fascinating, as a world so different from mine. Mexican drug lords making a deal? No problem. Pregnant teens and gangster members at her school? Sure. The school under threat from an armed assailant? Just another walk in the park.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after seeing an online interview with the author (Kathy and Hoda?) - I was curious, so I downloaded the Kindle sample and was smitten. This girl can write! This is a fun book - I read it in a night - and enjoyed it so much. I can't wait to see what the future holds for author Maya Van Wagenen - I am pretty sure this is the first of many great books she will write. Looking forward to her next book. Oh, and in the meantime, I might just have to read Betty Cornell's original book that inspired Maya. :-)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dinucci on April 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read it before I gave it to my daughter. I did laugh out loud, it brings us all back to 8th grade. It's very relate-able. And as you read, you think. It's often said that we learn through our children. This puts the things into perspective in a fun way. Great book for any middle school girl (regardless of their "popularity"). Update - my daughter is 80% through and loves the way Maya writes, she doesnt always read what I recommend but this time she did!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By yvonne j welther on April 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm giving this to my soon-to- be-middleschooler. Very honest, sweet and I can relate.Heck I'm still a geek:) Great read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Terra Stearman on April 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This lovely book was so honest about the perils of middle childhood. The author writes with such a lack of self consciousness and without a touch of guile. Her sincerity gives the book flavor.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought this book was well-written, funny and had a great message that would be good for any teen to remember. My 12yo daughter also read it and there were several things we talked about afterwards, like what a big difference kindness can make. I heard there was a possible movie, I sure hope there is because I'd certainly want to see it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Ortiz on April 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this book. I am so impressed that a young girl would put herself through this experience and then write about it. It was impossible to put down. A must read for anyone, any age who was ever shy, lacked confidence, or wanted to understand what makes someone popular (about 99% of the population, I would guess). It is well written and timeless. I literally felt transported back to my jr. high days as I turned each page and read about her personal experiences. I will hang on to this book for my 7 year old to read when she is old enough to really deal with these situations, probably a lot sooner than I would like.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brenda R. Dennis on April 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I saw Maya on the Today show and was so intrigued with her idea that I just had to read this book. I was really impressed by her bravery and innovation. The book is well written and really clever. I'm a grown up but was struck by the notion that these lessons really apply in all stages of life. This is a book that all ages can enjoy. I can't wait to see the movie!
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