Book Review: Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Quick Announcement: School has started up, and since I am taking all honors classes and I run cross country, I won’t be able to comment on other blogs as much as I did over the summer. Sorry! I’ll probably have a commenting day once a week where I’ll choose a few posts and comment on those.

About the Book

Title: Popular

Author: Maya Van Wagenen

Source: Library

Publication Date: April 15th 2014 by Dutton Juvenile

Pages: 272

Blurb: A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen

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.


My Review


For starters, the premise of this book was very unique and I have never read anything like it. It was interesting to see how Maya was able to use tips from so long ago to help her rise to popularity. I admired her courage and willingness to try new things. By following the tips in the book, Maya received many mean comments. However, she kept at her experiment and was always willing to step out of her comfort zone in order to complete the experiment. This made the story so much more interesting to read.

I also loved how relatable Maya’s story was. While I would probably never do the experiment that Maya did, or yearn for popularity the way Maya did, I still found many details to be relatable to my own experience as an eighth grader. Middle school can be a tough experience to go through, especially for the less popular kids. Maya described the trials that she experienced without holding any details back. She shared all of her feelings and emotions so that I, the reader, became more emotionally attached to her story. However, while middle school can be tough, there are also many positive experiences that can be had. I liked how instead of over dramatizing the struggles that come with middle school, Maya also focused on the positive aspects of middle school.

Maya’s writing voice was also unique and distinctive. I loved the sense of humor that she infused into her story to provide comic relief. She talked right to the reader without bogging anything down, which moved the story along at a quick clip and made me want to read more.

Overall, this story was a unique and humorous look at one girl’s journey to discover the true meaning of popularity. I would highly recommend it to any teen girls who want to know what popularity truly means.

My Rating

Five out of five butterflies.

butterfly rating

Have you read Popular? How did you like it? Have you read any other good memoirs?



2 thoughts on “Book Review: Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

  1. I LOOVED this book!
    My favorite scene: Health class, with scary STD’s.
    Or maybe it was the part where Maya started to really leave an impact on the school when she sat with all sorts of people at lunch, and other people started doing that too.


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