Thursday, November 27, 2008
How Not To Be Popular
Ziegler, Jennifer. 2008. How Not To Be Popular.
Oh crap. What did I just do?
How Not To Be Popular begs the question how far would you go to not be popular. Maggie Dempsey hates her life, hates her parents. Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word. She hates the fact that just when she's getting settled down, making friends, having a love life, her parents decide it's time to move. Again. And again. And again. This time, Maggie has had it. She's definitely HAD IT. No more settling down. No more making friends. And no more trying to have a love life, hooking a boyfriend only to have to say goodbye.
So Maggie settles on a plan. A plan to make her the most UNpopular girl in Austin, Texas. She'll do the exact opposite of what comes naturally to her. She'll ignore the cute guys that flirt with her. No matter how cute. No matter how persistent. She won't make herself likable to the popular girls. Won't play into their games. Won't worship the ground they walk on. Won't hang on every word or friendly smile. But it's not enough--she soon realizes--to just be neutral. Soon she'll be seeking out the ugliest clothes and shoes to wear, joining the geekiest clubs, and hanging out with all the wrong people. Will it be enough then?
Maggie takes on the persona of the geekiest of the geeks, the weirdest of the weird. Doing cartwheels--in a dress at the movie theatre, flashing panties weird. Carrying a potted plant of rosemary to school to sniff because she has a headache weird. No matter what she does, Maggie finds herself liked and admired and the center of attention.
What does a girl have to do to make no one like her? Will telling the truth do it?
Read and see in How Not To Be Popular.
How Not To Be Popular is as silly as can be. Stretching credibility to the max. Would any teenage girl go to such extremes? Sacrificing dignity every single day of the school year? Not caring what ANY one thought of her? This isn't a novel of a girl being herself, finding herself, learning to love herself as she is. This is a story of a girl living a lie, being a lie. Though I suppose one could definitely argue that Maggie doesn't know herself well enough to distinguish what being real, being authentic, being genuine is...what it means. She could just as easily be living a lie when she's wearing the popular persona as well. Trading one lie for another. Who is she really? Will she ever know? Will we?
I liked elements of How Not To Be Popular. I did. But there were parts of me that hated Maggie as well. Hated her for her hypocrisy. Hated her for how easy it was for her. How easy everyone just "loved" and "adored" her.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews