Even though Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern is a young adult novel, I’m glad I read it as an adult instead of as a teenager. I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as I do now because I wouldn’t have been able to get over the “labels”. I went to a big high school, you see; cliques were very prominent, and it was important to immerse yourself in one unless you wanted to be ostracized. My kin were the geeks– the band geeks, the gamer geeks, the Anime/Manga nerds, the AP kids (back when you had to be in the top 15% of the class to take Advance Placement classes [honors English ain’t got nothin’ on us!]). For some reason, this gave us a pass to eat lunch with the goth kids or the punk kids (or at least talk to them in the lunch line). Basically, we were an amalgamation of losers, and we were quite proud of that. So…needless to say, this book kind of resonated with me.
Released: September 2009
Publisher: Feiwal & Friends
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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 prom princess!) . . .
Things are changing fast. Jessie needs 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?
I don’t know how Halpern does it, but she seems to channel the voice of a fifteen year old girl with ease. It’s like she dug through all of my diaries and wrote what it was like to be me. Like, she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be infatuated with someone your parents would never approve of (for example, David J., the pale kid with the [stupid] devilock that Bianca and I would inconspicuously stare at from across the outdoor cafeteria during lunchtime…until he dropped out of school) or what it’s like to watch your friends transform into someone you barely recognize (like the first day of 11th grade when Crystal H. dyed her hair black, shaved off her eyebrows, and replaced her Hurley and Billabong clothing with a wardrobe exclusively from Hot Topic [back when they sold counter-culture clothing, not the pop culture clothing they sell now] and started listening only to HIM [Won’t you die tonight for love/Baby join me in death]).
Jessie and Barrett are amazing. There is no sibling rivalry. They just love each other and have a mutual respect for each other, and it shows. PLUS, THE KRISPY KREME DONUT SCENE IS THE BEST!!!
Only because the smoking section at Denny’s doesn’t even exist in most states now.
Maybe it’s just a weird timing issue here, but…I thought Nerd was the new black. Like, being a Nerd back in 2004 wasn’t social suicide (or maybe it was, and that’s why I didn’t have very many friends?), so I can’t imagine it was social suicide in 2009. And nowadays, Nerdom is embraced. Praised. Promoted. Or maybe it’s just me. Like…why didn’t anyone ever invite me to play D&D when I was in high school?!
Overall, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder was an excellent read. So excellent I finished it in one sitting, which rarely happens. So basically, I think you need to read this book ASAP!
What high school clique did you belong to back in the day? And, obviously it’s been a while since I was a high schooler myself, so do cliques even exists anymore?