Maggie Dempsey is tired of moving all over the country. Her parents are second-generation hippies who uproot her every year or so to move to a new city. When Maggie was younger, she thought it was fun and adventurous. Now that she’s a teenager, she hates it. When she moved after her freshman year, she left behind good friends, a great school, and a real feeling of belonging. When she moved her sophomore year, she left behind a boyfriend, too. Now that they’ve moved to Austin, she knows better. She’s not going to make friends. She’s not going to fit in. Anything to prevent her from liking this new place and them from liking her. Only . . . things don’t go exactly as planned.
Grade: B //
(taken from the back cover! :P)
"Unpopulariy is a state of mind. Feel nerdy. Think uncool thoughts. It also helps to use the word vaginal a lot."
"To be unpopular, you must look the part. Remember four words: plastic flowered swim cap."
"Revel in grossness. Leave food in your teeth. Proudly display feminine hygiene products."
"Never let them see you be cool--even outside school. In case of emergency, flash your undies."
You can't imagine how excited I was to finally read this book. I bumped it up ahead of all the others on my TBR pile (sorry to all authors waiting for their reviews!) because Jennifer and I had been talking for well over a month and I hadn't had a chance to check out her work yet. When she offered to send me it, I was so over-the-moon, I seriously broke down and did a little number or whatnot in my living room. I swear, I freaked my brother out. But *ahem*.
I guess the reason I was so in dire need to read How NOT To Be Popular is that I, too, have moved around my fair share and I wanted to see if I could relate to the main character, Sugar Magnolia Dempsey (no, I am not kidding) (call her Maggie). I am so sick of reading sad books about moving--damn it, I have my own life's sob fest to keep me depressed if I wish to be. I wanted some humor along with the situation. And anyone who's read the back cover's Tips for NOT Being Popular (posted above) can only hope that's what this book will provide. Hey, it did.
I liked this. Even though it's laced with humor, How NOT To Be Popular does touch on some important themes. Maggie goes down a tumultuous road filled with lies and the turnaround is not at all what she expected--she's actually accepted by her peers because she's "real". Is her deceit excusable because she was only trying to protect herself? Or does that make her all the more selfish?
And, as a side note here, I was discussing the irony of Maggie's supposed image with Jennifer. Maggie tries to copy her only friend, Penny, because Penny is naturally good at being "uncool". People praise Maggie for her authenticity but they treat Penny like crap. Does realism have to come in a certain package for it to be appraised? Why is Maggie accepted but not Penny? Like I said, while it is a generally light book, it does have its thought-provoking moments.
Now, for the criticism. The reason I'm giving this book a B instead of an A is because it had a slow going all the way through that interefered with the narrative. Could've been tightened. Also, much as I understand Maggie, I got irritated with the way she treated people at some points in the novel. Maybe it fits the bill for what her character was supposed to be, but it did get a rile out of me.
Recommendation? Yup. It's damn funny. :)
Book QnA & Interview will get posted in one long post tomorrow because the questions for each were mixed when I was interviewing Jenny over the phone. The chat was really random and really funny, so I hope everyone will tune in tomorrow to see it! And don't forget the HNTBP giveaway on Wednesday...
Edited to add: Book QnA Link!
Monday, June 2, 2008