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!) . . .There isn't a whole lot to say about this book that isn't in the description, but that's more of my fault than Halpern's. I don't normally enjoy realistic fiction to begin with. I mean, what do I say about it? Congratulations, Jessie, for being average?
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?
And that's what Jessie is: pretty average. She's bright, sure, but so are a lot of people that I know in real life. She makes a big deal throughout a majority of the book that she doesn't want to be seen as a "nerd" (though she seems to have a pretty narrow definition of that. I mean, she spends her free time sewing skirts with Pikachus and buckets of popcorn on them to wear to school) and puts off hanging out with people that she just ends up friends with in the end.
My main issue with the book was Jessie's stubbornness. It's clear that she wants to play Dungeons and Dragons (which is a bit of a cop-out in the "let's make nerdy characters" department if you ask me), but she constantly belittles herself for wanting to. Why would she keep herself from doing something that she's curious about? That interests her? I'm glad she gave in and played in the end, because she became so much happier than she was at the beginning of the book with her cruddy friends.
If you are a fan of YA realistic fiction, you'll find a lot in this book that you'll enjoy. Jessie's voice did not feel forced at all, and came off as very natural. Her experiences were easy to relate to, and faced issues that a lot of teenagers do today (relationship issues, finding your place in the world, etc.) The writing had a sarcastic tone that I like in YA books, and even though she's a bit stubborn Jessie never seemed snotty or not open to change. She was a good, well-rounded character, and I'm happy that she got what she deserved in the end.
Title: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
Authors: Julie Halpern
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: September 29th, 2009