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

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

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Thoughtful, fun, true story of a year spent taking advice from a 1950s popularity guide - with some surprising results. Well worth a read! Jim went to the book launch for Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: April 2014
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0141353258

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At the age of 13, Maya Van Wagenen found a 1950 guide to popularity, written by teen model Betty Cornell. Unhappy at school and intrigued by what her dad calls its outdated ideas, she secretly decides to try and change her life by putting the book into practice, a chapter a month. But surely her dad is right, and Betty's words have no place in the modern world? Read this and find out!

It took me a while to get into this one, for some reason I can’t quite place my finger on, but once we saw Maya make the more drastic changes to her life then I started to really enjoy it. I’m impressed by her courage – I know from many years teaching in a secondary school that it can be really difficult to stand out for any reason, so to go for such a complete wardrobe transformation and to then try and approach so many different people and make friends with them was a huge step for a shy girl to make. She brings her family, friends, and teachers to life vividly, especially best friend Kenzie, who's relatively supportive despite clearly not understanding why Maya is putting herself through this, and a beloved teacher, who sadly passes away during the course of the year.

I also thought that the contrast between the old advice given by Betty and Maya’s own slightly sarcastic popularity tips (which I especially enjoyed) was interesting, as were Maya’s descriptions of some of the scarier moments of living in a fairly troubled border town. Some of Betty's own tips seem very strange in this day and age but it's fascinating to see Maya try to put them into practice anyway.

An enjoyable read with a light, easy writing style. Maya Van Wagenern got a two-book deal for this and for an upcoming novel – I’ll be fascinated to see what her fiction is like.

I think fans of this one would like a novel about a girl living as if she's in an earlier decade, Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt.

Buy Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir) by Maya Van Wagenen at Amazon.com.


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