Title: How Not to be Popular
Author: Jennifer Ziegler
Delacorte Press, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Recommended to: Teen girls, 13 and up
Sugar Magnolia Dempsey (aka "Maggie") is used to moving all over the country with her hippie, free-spirited parents, being uprooted from one place and starting all over in a new one. But now, it's her senior year of high school, and she's sick of her family's dysfunctional routine. She's sick of leaving behind good friends and never hearing from them again. She's sick of having to make new ones at her latest home that she knows she'll lose in a matter of three or four months. So when her parents announce they're packing up and moving to Austin--thousands of miles away from Maggie's boyfriend in Portland--she thinks up a plan: this time, she won't let herself become close to people, sparing herself from the hurt she feels later on. This time, she won't let herself make any friends--even if it means dressing in the weirdest clothes she can find (flowered plastic swim caps, dumpy neon suits, and Little Bo Peep dresses), carrying a Star Trek lunchbox, and hanging out with all the wrong people...But what if her plan fails? What if she finds something (or someone) to like about Austin?
Three words to describe this novel are: funny, hilarious, and extremely well-written. I actually found myself laughing out loud at parts. Maggie's voice (shown through the novel's first-person narration) is so honest and clear that it really felt like she was a real-life person by the time I'd finished.
I loved the characters in this book: perhaps Rosie and Les were my favorites, but I also enjoyed the oh-so-creative Maggie herself, the evil Caitlyn, the utterly hateable Miles, and all the hilarious Helping Hands.
The book, for me, was at a perfect pace: I was never bored, and I always looked forward to Maggie's next escapade or silly outfit. The entertaining writing kept the reader occupied from start to finish, and was smooth and simple to understand what was happening.
My one problem was that the book took a long time to climax and end. It felt like there was a lot of rising conflicts and events without a real climax, which bothered me a bit.
Anyway, I can't wait to read more from Ziegler: her second novel struck me as simply fabulous, from the great characters to the well-described summary, to the satisfying ending.