Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen is a teen memoir with a fun twist.

When Maya Van Wagenen discovers a 1950's teen popularity guide while helping organize her father's office, she just thinks of it as a weird curiosity -- until her mother suggests that she take the guide's advice for her eighth grade school year and document the consequences. Though she initially balks at the idea, she finds she can't get it out of her head, and so she embarks on a quest for the 1950's teen ideal. She starts with the easiest chapters and works her way up to the more challenging ones. Along the way, of course, she learns a lot of interesting stuff about popularity, her fellow students, and herself.

I read this all in one evening -- I definitely found it a fun, engaging read. It would pair well with Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt, a novel with a similar premise. I'd recommend this to readers who enjoy memoirs and high school stories.

(Reviewed from a finished copy, courtesy of the publisher and YALSA.)


  1. I read it, but was a bit disappointed, can't remember exactly why.

  2. This wasn't as fun as I hoped it was. I collect etiquette manuals from the 1950s, so I had really high expectations.

  3. How interesting, that neither of you cared much for it. I read it just after the YMA announcement (where it won the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction award) so perhaps I was predisposed to like it, and not reading very critically.