November 3, 2010

Book Review: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Nerd YonderJessie Sloan is feeling more and more at the fringe of her own friendship with Bizza and Char - her best friends since forever - as the sophomore year of high school starts and both Bizza and Char decide to turn punk. Jess is no stranger to punk coolness, her own brother has been the punk king of their school for years, but it's different with Bizza and Char, mostly because she's having a hard time recognizing the girls she used to love.

As a loyal friend that she is, Jess is not ready to let go of the friendships that defined her life for so long, not even after Bizza starts stalking Jess' long time crush Van. But as the first few weeks of school go by, Jess can't help to feel used and wonder why she hangs out with these girls.

When Bizza takes it too far, Jess decides to move on from this friendship and try to find new friends. There is Paulie, a band geek who welcomes Jess to her lunch table. And there is Dottie, a girl Jess sits next to during study hall, who is generally considered a bit weird but in whom Jess finds someone genuinely nice.

A casual invitation to play Dungeons & Dragons with Dottie and her friends brings Jess in contact with people that actually want to be around her, and though she worries about being considered a full on nerd, she slowly starts to accept that having people who like you for yourself might be worthy.

Having never read Julie Halpern's books, I wasn't sure what to expect of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder but I was so pleasantly surprised at this book. Jess - who likes sewing her own skirts, listen to audiobooks and get straight A's in Math - was a great narrator. She gets along with her family, even with her brother Barrett (loved him and his girlfriend). She is normal girl (I love when authors write about normal people who could be anyone). Her agony and worry about labels sounds true, specially as she starts to look past them. I adored Dottie and her friends, specially Henry with his messy curls and blue-blue eyes.

For me, Jess was completely believable - I've been in her shoes (being a better friend to someone than what they are to you) and I could understand her so well, and I cheered her on as she moved from these toxic friendships and came into her own.

It also reminded me of The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks. Not in a "I've read this book before"-way, but in the note both books hit of the turbulent times of high schools when friendships change for better or worse.

Favorite Quote: "I just want you to know that there are a lot of really great people out there. You might not meet them in high school, but you'll find them and hopefully they won't be concerned with how cool they are rather than how much they like to be around you." - Jess' Mom.
starstarstarstar2/3Personal Favorite

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