How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler has been on my to-read list for at least a year. I never could find it at the library, though, until I finally broke down and reserved it. Though the book is a few years old now, it was absolutely worth going back to read, as it isn't dependent on any trend to make it good.
Maggie Dempsy has lived all over the country. Her family only stays in one place for a year or two, then sets off for the next big thrill. Maggie never minded her unsettled life... until the most recent move, when she had to say goodbye not just to friends but to a boyfriend she really loved.
She hates how much she misses everyone she left behind, and she's determined not to feel this much pain ever again. So she makes a pact with herself: no friends in her new school. No parties, no popularity, and definitely no boyfriend.
But being unpopular isn't as easy as she thought it would be. Everything she does to make people think she's a loser only backfires. The school misfits genuinely like her, and despite her initial prejudices, she kind of likes them too. Worst of all, Maggie thinks she might just have a crush on a guy who's totally not her type. If she doesn't find a way to sabotage her relationships soon, she might just make a place for herself in her new school.
This book has a fantastic voice. Maggie is fun and quirky without being over-the-top. Humor runs throughout the book, both in the things she says and the things she does, and it never feels like it's trying too hard. Maggie's voice is authentic, which is important since authenticity is a major theme of the story.
I loved the idea for the plot too. Ziegler takes a well-known idea (trying to be cool) and turns it on its head. The book was hard to put down because some of Maggie's stunts were so outrageous I just had to know what her classmates' reactions would be. And the chapters never disappointed me.
So I'm happy to give How Not to Be Popular a glowing recommendation. When I got to the end I was sorry it was over, and that's high praise for any book. I hope one day I'll get to read it again.