2015 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction
New York Times Bestseller
A breakout teen author explores the true meaning of popularity and how to survive middle school in this hysterically funny, touchingly honest contemporary memoir.
“I was inspired by [Maya's] journey and made a point of saving a copy of ‘Popular’ for my sister, who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could have saved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective.” —Maude Apatow, New York Times Book Review
Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?
Maya Van Wagenen is about to find out.
Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at “pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.
The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence, along with a better understanding of what it means to be popular.
About the Author
Maya Van Wagenen is sixteen years old. When she was eleven, her family moved to Brownsville, Texas, the setting of Popular? When not hunched over a desktop writing, Maya enjoys reading, British television, and chocolate. She now lives with her parents and two siblings in rural Georgia. She is a junior in high school but still shares a room with her sixth grade brother. Remarkably, they have not yet killed each other.
Praise for Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek…
"Maya’s voice is fresh and frank, and her experiences at a middle school near the Mexican border provide an often overlooked perspective." —Booklist
“Everyone’s happiness project looks different, and I was utterly charmed by Maya Van Wagenen’s honest, funny, and thought-provoking account of her efforts to become ‘popular.’” —Gretchen Rubin, #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project
“Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir, Popular, would have been wonderful to read as a kid, and so reassuring to Nerdy Teenage Me. Her year-long experiment in popularity is timeless; the intelligent and humane way she gets to the heart of the matter is uniquely her. Funny, determined, and wry, Van Wagenen has written a wise, heartfelt guide for other kids eager to keep up.” —Rachel Hartman, bestselling author of Seraphina
"Geeky and dorky, but never wimpy, Maya Van Wagenen is as powerful and honest as she is quirky and funny—and startlingly gifted. She’s the real deal, folks, a teenage John Green for the next generation. Stunning.” —Margaret Stohl, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series
"An interesting and earnest memoir." —Kirkus Reviews
"While completely appropriate for middle school readers, Popular is even more entertaining for adults. Van Wagenen is a uniquely gifted talent with a gem of a first novel." —VOYA