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Into the Wild Nerd Yonder Hardcover – September 29, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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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

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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: #2,039,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book with a main character that really touched a chord with you? Someone who related to you so much that you felt EXACTLY like that character? That you had virtually the same experiences as that character? This was one of those rare times where it happened to me. Of course, over the years, there's been plenty of fictional characters I've really liked and/or related to, but this was one of the few times where I actually found a character that was EXACTLY like me, in nearly every respect, to the point that I thought I was reading a book about me and not someone else.

Jessie Sloan is something of a "plain Jane" at her school, who has a talent for both math and sewing, and makes her own clothes to wear. She also secretly crushes on a guy that's a part of her older brother's punk rock band. But when she starts 10th grade, her social life undergoes a dramatic change. Her supportive older brother (who's leaving for college soon) quits the rock band and starts dating the school's prom queen. And at the same time, her long time friends, Bizza and Char, decide to "go punk" and latch on to wild partying and trying to get in with the "cool kids". Feeling exponentially lonely and left out, Jessie tries to make new friends, and winds up crossing paths with the "nerd herd" of the school, who play Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends. At first, Jessie agonizes over being called a nerd (despite developing a crush on one of the D&D players), but when Bizza goes after Jessie's first crush and gets burned in a truly awful way, Jessie must come to learn just who are her truly supportive friends, and that how they treat each other are more important than labels.
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The summary of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder makes one think that this will be a touching, meaningful contemporary novel. And it should be. But the pacing is slow, and I didn't get the feels that I should have.

It's the summer before Jessie's sophomore year, and her best friends, Bizza and Char, have reinvented themselves into punk rockers. Jessie's brother is in a punk band, and although he doesn't want them to, the girls start hanging around with the band. Jessie has always had a crush on the drummer, Van.

So when Bizza goes after Van, and ends up in an intimate situation with him, Jessie is hurt, and angry, and gives up on their friendship. And, finally realizes that Van is a real jerk.

So, the second half of the book is about Jessie finding a new set of friends. She has been talking to a nerdy girl who is into Dungeons & Dragons. Since Jessie sews, she's been asked to create costumes for the D&D group. So Jessie very reluctantly goes to these D&D sessions with these nerds and finds a new set of friends and maybe even a romantic interest.

It really takes a long time for things to happen. I found the plot to be very plodding, and after reading about 50% of the book, I started skimming. It was one of those books that you could read a couple paragraphs of each chapter and know what's going on. I did read the last 10% of the book too. I think the second half was better, so I probably should have skimmed the first half.

I really didn't feel very sorry for Jessie. I don't know why. The characterizations are good, the writing is fine, but I didn't see her problems as being that dramatic.

I loved that Jessie has supportive parents and gets along with her brother.
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