Title: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
Author: Julie Halpern
From GoodReads, "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'm feeling a little conflicted about this book because I love the main character in the story's quirkiness (she sews her own patterned skirts and plays the drums and Dungeons and Dragons), her ability to get rid of poseur-friends, and her smarts. There is one aspect of the main character that bothers me though and that is her relationship with her brother, Barrett. I am fine with the fact that they look up to each other and have a close relationship, but there were times where I felt that they were too close. I felt like Jessie had a certain innocence on one hand, but the next minute she was discussing her friend Bizza's sexual exploits with her brother. I think that the author meant this to demonstrate a certain coming-of-age quality to the book.
Overall, I liked the book and think that it would appeal to middle school and high school girls particularly. There were parts of the book that I think upper elementary girls would like, but I worried about some of the sexual aspects of the book for this age group. One huge compliment that I have for the author is her highlighting other terrific books. I loved how she described the audiobooks that Jessie was listening to and a couple of the books discussed I had read and some I had not, but it made me want to read those books as well. Kudos, Julie Halpern!