“‘School is the armpit of life,’ my best friend Kenzie once told me, Amen. My school is no exception. Walk through the scratched glass doors on that first day and your life becomes a series of brutal and painful encounters: being called a dick by the football player who sits near you in science, standing in a bra and granny panties in front of your gym locker that you can’t open while the girls around you giggle and point, crying in the bathroom because you don’t know it was possible for your heart to hurt this much.”
When Maya’s father finds a teenage popularity guide in the back room of their Brownsville, Texas, home it is the start of something new. As a member of one of the least popular groups in her school Maya decides that it might be fun to see what the book says, take on its tips and try and become popular over her last year at the nearby Middle School. This sparks off a year of being laughed at, being completely out of her comfort zone and surprisingly making new friends, all the while Maya documents her findings and sees what all the fuss is about popularity.
So this unfortunately will be a short review. I say unfortunately because I really wanted to love this book, and its not even that I hated it. It just didn’t stir up any real feelings for me.
The book really didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good, it was just bland. I didn’t feel any connection to Maya at all, as an author or a character and I felt like she didn’t really let any of her personality out within the book. It is technically a non-fiction book, a memoir from Maya herself but to me it read like a quite boring fictional account of reality. The bits I enjoyed the most were the bits Maya really let her feelings show, about her teacher Mr Lawrence and her family mainly, but even then the felt held back and sometimes didn’t make sense.
The book was good for showing the whole idea of popularity being a bit of a stupid one, the results of Maya’s experiment were brilliantly shown and I really enjoyed reading that but I felt that the whole thing was a bit of a let down in all honesty. I have a lot of respect to Maya for doing what she did and writing about it at the tender age of 15 and she is very brave to ever think about this kind of thing, let alone do it and get a book published about it but it just didn’t work for me, sorry!
I know I am just one of a very, very low number of readers who didn’t enjoy this book and I feel really bad about it but I have to be honest in my own feelings. If you want to read other more positive reviews of Popular please visit the goodreads page, linked below, as the majority of users do rave about it.
Popular was published by Penguin on April 15th, alongside a rerelease of the book that Maya based her life on, Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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