Friday, October 3, 2014

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

It’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathelete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .

Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes?

My Thoughts:
This was so cute. Just. So. Cute. And I love the message it sends out to girls.

Ok, so Jessie, our main character is just adorable. It actually took me a few chapters to get into the voice and the feel of the novel but once I did I really liked it. I liked being inside Jessie's head. She was fun and original and honest and did things that normal people do and thought things that normal people thought. Jessie was layered and nuanced and I really liked her. And I love that she made her own clothes and wore them to school. I totally did that in high school. I loved her inner struggle: "Am I a nerd? Do I want to be associated with the nerds? Should I care?" Everyone feels that way about something and Halpern pulled it off very honestly. Although there were a lot of repeated ideas. And lots of introspection with Jessie debating the same things/ideas over and over.

Barrett was really great. I think I was a little in love with him. And it was nice to read a book with a nice brother/sister relationship in it. Barrett and Jessie were friends as well as siblings and they actually did stuff together. It was nice. Although, if I'm being honest, Barrett did feel the tiniest bit flat. Granted, he didn't get all that much page time in the story. And there were times when he acted a bit differently than other times. But he was predictable. Although I still liked him.

Bizza and Char were kind of on my blacklist from the beginning so I'm not all that sad or surprised by the way things turned out for them. I think was kind of the point of them, though. You weren't supposed to like them. And their characters weren't supposed to be multi-dimensional. They were just flat characters written in to deliver a cautionary tale to young girls. Which I'm actually grateful for; I'm so sick of reading books where teenagers do stupid/impulsive/illegal/dangerous/immoral stuff and everything turns out all sunshine and rainbows. In this book, it's all real. What really happens when you decide to hook up with a random guy? Just ask Bizza. Definitely not sunshine and rainbows.

The nerd herd were fun. I wish there had been more of them in the story so I could have gotten to know all the nerd-guys a bit better. The only ones we got to know were Dottie and Henry, even though there were four others. I felt like there could have been more comedic interaction and just fun getting to know the other guys more.

And I loved the changes with the love interest. I don't exactly know how to broach this without giving away major plot points so all I'll say is: You know how you have a crush on that cute guy in high school and find out a few years after high school that now he's a total loser working in food services in your hometown? Wouldn't it be so much more satisfying to learn something like that while you're still in high school, save yourself the teenage drama? So it's something like that. Unrealistic but completely made me happy. 

I loved how Jessie found herself. Her transformation was fun to watch just because it felt so honest. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan of honesty. One thing I found interesting was that when things were going poorly for Jessie the story followed every single day, practically hour by hour. But when things were going well, a whole week would pass by in a sentence. That's kind of like life, yeah? The whole, "Time flies when you're having fun" sort of thing. I don't know if it was intentional but I appreciated it.

All-in-all I really liked this book. Yes, there were lots of repeated ideas. There were even some phrases and repeated terminology that I found a bit crass and maybe a little gross. But I loved the message. I loved the characters. I would read it again.

Sexual Content: Moderate (lots of talk, no scenes)
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate (lots of smoking, some teenage drinking)

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