Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Friday, June 25, 2010

author’s website: Julie Halpern
release date: September 29, 2009
appeals to: Young Adult
genre: Contemporary
length: 256 pages
publisher: Feiwel & Friends
overall rating: 4 stars

*the inside flap*
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 homecoming queen!).

Things are changing fast. Jessie need 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?

If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?

*my review*
This was a very cute story about the importance of friendship and staying true to yourself. In the book, Jessie is having friend trouble, because her two best friends (Bizza and Char) have decided that being punk and hanging out with Jessie’s brother’s friends is much cooler than they have been before. However, Jessie doesn’t see the transition as a positive thing, and begins to drift away from Bizza and Char, especially when Bizza starts to make decisions that highlight her not-so-nice nature, like going after Jessie’s long-standing crush Van. As Jessie drifts away from Bizza and Char, she experiments with different groups of people in her school and finds some great friends to hang out with at lunch and in her classes. When she is invited to an evening with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, she has a lot of hesitation because of its “nerdy” nature – even though the evening’s host is a very cute, if pretty nerdy, guy that she might be interested in.

Throughout this book, Jessie meets new people and is questioning the new groups of friends she’s trying out, while she continues to be frustrated with the fact that her old friends dumped her. And through it all, she turns to sewing as her release time. She is on a mission to sew a different skirt for every day of the school year, and is well on her way. The sewing aspect was a fun addition, but it also makes a lot of sense later in the story.

What really stood out to me in this story was the awesome family dynamic in Jessie’s family. Her brother, Barrett, is a senior, but is super supportive of Jessie. Even though he teases her about things, he really cares about his sister, and that comes through strongly in the story. They have the very cool brother-sister relationship that I always wanted when I was growing up (as an only child).

Overall, the book was cute, fun, and easy to read, and it really drives home two important messages: (1) be true to yourself, and (2) friends are important to everyone, but they should let you be yourself.

*short and snappy*
writing: light and easy to read, even when Jessie was having a hard time
plot: a little predictable, but there were some surprises along the way
characters: fun and different – there were a lot of different personalities represented in the book, and all of them had the quirks that made them seem realistic
judging by the cover: the cover is really cute, and the die-20 in the background makes a lot more sense as you read the story!
miscellaneous: there is a lot of Dungeon and Dragon talk throughout the book, and since I know nothing about that, it was sometimes difficult to understand. BUT, Jessie knows nothing too, so it was kind of like learning along with her.


LJK said...

This look good, and I hadn't heard about it before. I'm putting it on hold at the library right now. Great review!

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