How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler
You must worship all that is totally and tragically unhip.
Revel in grossness. Leave food in your teeth. Proudly display feminine hygiene products.
Thinking back to my high school days (in the late, retro 80’s and early 90’s), I don’t know of any one person who did not want to be popular--at least to some degree. So, you did nearly everything and anything to be accepted, even if it meant just by all your trombone band buddies. Or, you did stupid things to get noticed…um…socks and high heels. Yup. That was me. Sometimes it just got so tiring, you know? And then, when you’re like 30-something you think back and wonder what the heck was wrong with you. Not that the need to fit in ever ends. Every job I’ve ever had is just like a big high school with a bunch of adults. You’ll find all the same cliques, but what’s scarier is that all of those jocks, nerds, band geeks, skaters, and drama queens are now parents. Anyways, wouldn’t the world just be simpler and easier to live in if we all stopped trying to impress one another? If we just act like our own weird selves in front of people? Just wake up, throw something on, and do and say whatever we want because nobody cares and popularity is so over-rated?
Unpopularity should be the way to go, and that is Maggie’s exact goal--How Not to be Popular. Well, who knew not being popular is a 24 hour job? Certainly not Sugar Maggie Dempsey. You know, a name like Sugar is most definitely a leg up on the popularity scale already, but after having moved one time too many, Maggie's had enough. She's tired of having friends and boyfriends just to lose them whenever her hippie parents decide to up and move to some place entirely different. This time her parents, Les and Rosie, drag Maggie away from the West Coast to Austin,Texas. (Yeah! Austin! I love books that have Texas settings!) And her number one goal? Not to be popular. All popularity will do is get her emotionally attached to a place she won’t call home after several months. But, not being popular proves difficult for Maggie since she is the master of fitting in after a lifetime of moving. She knows how to target the girls on the fringe of the popular crowd and quickly climb into semi-popularity just by association. But, this time around all she wants is to be one of those unfriendly losers who nobody notices. Not likely.
So, by default she becomes friends with the friendless and nerdy and falls for a guy who seems to be like the poster child for the Young Republicans…the complete opposite of her hippie, yoga loving, green tea sipping parents whose sole purpose in life is to find their inner Chi. As if her parents aren't enough to keep her from having friends, Maggie makes a pretty strong effort to remain a loser. She wears the most possibly hideous outfits, proclaims herself a vegetarian, takes a dip in algae, scum filled water, joins the geeky Helping Hands club, wears Trekkie gear, and takes water aerobics with a bunch of old ladies. And, what happens? She gets nominated for Homecoming Queen. Go figure.
Then things just get plain ugly. She does the unimaginable and pays for it with gut wrenching pain and nearly her heart. From loser to trendsetter to social pariah to almost normal in a matter of a few months. Man, I don’t miss high school. It's probably worse now. I should know...I work in one!
Read it! You’ll laugh at all of Maggie’s antics and cheer for Jack, the well-ironed, trousered boy!It's a great summer read! The only thing I would’ve like more in this book would've been more Jack. He is an adorable guy--the kind parents want for their daughters. Would've loved to have seen a more disheveled version of Jack by the end, and also, a stronger, more romantic ending. But, that’s just me.