Friday, 27 June 2014

Book Review - Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Popular: A Memoir 

Author: Maya Van Wagenen

Genres: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Young Adult

Published: April 15th 2014

Pages: 272 pages (Paperback Edition) (Penguin)

Read: June 2014

Rating: 4 Stars

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 humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

Popular: A Memoir is a non-fiction novel written by a young girl about a social experiment she leads in the dreaded school situation. Maya finds an old guide on how to be popular and uses these old fashioned tips to see the effect and all the while she journals her days as they pass, the events that unfurl and the conclusions she reaches.

This book is a really easy read with each chapter being labelled with a different topic as in the old popularity guide of Betty Cornell. We follow diary entries for the duration of a year which belong to Maya as she changes her lifestyle completely to gain 'popularity'. Maya does the perfect job of combining both her own thoughts, and the tips of the book as well as the events in her life to create an interesting read. 

Of course since this book is a non-fiction, memoir novel, our characters are real people. Our author is a character and I can tell you now that she is a brave, kind girl. In this novel she does things that many would never dream of doing and this gives her bravery and courage and in the end confidence.

What I liked about this novel is that it is completely relative. No matter what country you're in, no matter what school you go to, the is undoubtedly a popularity scale. There are cliques and groups. Whether you're in a school that is constantly being raided with drug dogs and lock-ups, like Maya's, or a day to day uneventful school, each one has it's similarities in the way of social interaction.
Maya's personality is what makes this novel enjoyable as well. We see her change from the very first page to the last, all for the better. She goes from quiet and shy to confident and outspoken, all because of a simple action. 

Honestly, I don't think I disliked anything about this novel. I know that this novel for me will probably be the only read once type of novel, but that is not a bad thing either. Even though I will only read this once, it was enjoyable and it did change my perspective in a way of social situations. 

The ending fit the story nicely. We see the differences as well as the hinted future and I just think that wraps a really nice novel up quite comfortably. 

In the end I really enjoyed this memoir. It was the first time I have ever read a non-fiction book. To tell the truth, I kind of cringed at the thought of reading a memoir, but once I started I knew that I would enjoy it. So, if any of you are being held back because this book is a non-fiction, memoir, go out there and grab it to read. You have my word, you will enjoy it. 
I would also recommend this book to those who are at that age of not knowing what to do and who aren't comfortable with myself. Even though I have passed those lines now, I would have been grateful to have this type of book five years ago when I was thirteen and facing those challenges.

So guys, there's my review. I hope you enjoyed it!! And let me know what you think of the book!!

Favourite Quotes:
"Popularity is more than looks. It's not clothes, hair or even possessions. When we let go of these labels, we see how flimsy and relative they actually are. Real popularity is kindness and acceptance. It is about who you are, and how you treat others."

*Thank you so much to Penguin Publishers for a copy of this book.*

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