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Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Into the Wild Nerd YonderIt’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school, and all the wrong things in her life are changing. While her hair is still brown, straight, and boring, her friends are nearly unrecognizable as punk poseurs and her older brother has shaved off his Mohawk and traded his punk band scene for dating last year’s Prom Princess. When Jessie’s supposed best friend goes too far with Jessie’s long-time curst, Jessie finally has enough. She decides she needs new friends. In an attempt to discover the social niche she fits into, Jessie unexpectedly finds herself hanging out with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd. Sure, Jessie has always loved math and rather enjoyed studying, but does she really want to actually be declared a nerd by adopting these role players as her new friends? Is there any way to recover from being nerdiest of them all—and does Jessie even want to?

I fell in love with Halpern’s witty and utterly true to life writing in Get Well Soon and was thrilled to see it continue in the cleverly titled Into the Wild Nerd Yonder. Halpern has a talent for portraying adolescent social situations in a way most readers will be able to relate to. I couldn’t believe at times how accurate Halpern was in her analysis of high school cliques, particularly the popular crowd; she includes little facts I thought no one else thought about. It also helps that Jessie is such a likable character, not only for her sense of humor and other quirky traits, but also because she has to deal with teen year crises such as best friends turning into disloyal strangers, a protective and beloved older brother going away to college soon, and confusion and self-doubt over liking and fitting in with people she used to negatively label as “nerds” and “dorks.” And Halpern accomplishes all this with a sweet and laugh-out-loud hilarious story. The minor characters are somewhat less developed than they could be, but this can be easily overlooked in the bigger picture. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is without a doubt a very enjoyable read, successful in showing the difficulty in forgetting the imaginary constructs labels are for many teens, and that life without conformity and labels is generally much sweeter.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is the perfect read for any teen who’s ever felt underappreciated or questioned their position in whichever social clique, or just anyone looking for a funny and inspirational read to cheer them up. Readers who liked Halpern’s Get Well Soon will also love Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, as will fans of The ABC’s of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro, A Little Friendly Advice and Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian, King of the Screwups by K.L. Going, and Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab.

Rating: 4.5

Review copy from author Julie Halpern

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