Thursday, May 5, 2011
Review: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
Author: Julie Halpern
Publisher:Feiwel & Friends; (September 29, 2009)
I really enjoyed this book, but that cover has GOT to go. I know we all complain when it seems like the cover artist hasn't even bothered to read a blurb about the book ("I know, let's just put a pensive girl in a pretty dress on the cover!" "Um, our protagonist does not wear a ball gown at any point..." "no worries!") but in this case it seems like they went overboard trying to incorporate bits from the story into the cover. It's just a mess. And the paperback cover is worse, heaven help us.
The book, on the other hand, is very fun! Our main character, Jess, finds that she has very little left in common with her friends since grade school (Bizza and Char - really Elizabeth and Charlotte) as they move into a poser punk phase that she has no urge to join in with. This leaves her a bit lonely and fretful about her lack of friends or social group. A classmate makes some friendly overtures, but she's... a nerd.
I loved how this book took broad caricatures and showed the inner workings that make everyone an individual. Everyone - the cool brother, the total beeyotch friend, the nerds - they were all portrayed very realistically. Even though as an out-and-proud nerd I was sometimes peeved by how uncomfortable Jess felt to be seen as part of the "nerd" group, I adored how matter of fact and open the group was about their nerdiness. Even when they went beyond my personal levels of nerdiness (LARP) I still enjoyed their enthusiasm.
It is also great to have a book where childhood friendships fade away. Not everyone does stay friends forever, and sometimes it is for the best to move on and reinvent yourself, but it can be scary. I think it is good to have a book that shows teens that it is okay to switch social groups if your friends start doing things you're uncomfortable with, or even just don't share your interests anymore.
Even though Jess cared a bit too much about labels, I loved that she was a smart and intrinsically a good kid, with a realistic and loving family. She didn't fall instantly, madly in love with a mysterious new guy - she just started hanging out with a new group and found herself thinking about Henry - a completely sweet and funny love interest that I would have crushed on myself, back in the day.
This book had me smiling and wanting to sew myself a skirt with goofy fabric. The author has a new book coming out, and I'll definitely add it to my TBR list.