Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
by Halpern, Julie
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School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-For as long as she can remember, Jess has been friends with Bizza and Char. Lately, however, she has been finding that she doesn't have as much in common with them. She has become more interested in math and sewing, while the other two girls only seem interested in partying and hanging around Jess's older brother and his punk band. On their first day of sophomore year, Jess finds that her old friends have decided to go punk. In Bizza's case, this involves shaving her head and pursuing Jess's longtime crush, punk Van, and eventually performing oral sex on him at a party (contracting gonorrhea in the process). Jess decides to move on and becomes involved with a group of Dungeons and Dragons players that includes her new romantic interest, nerdy but adorable Henry. She agonizes over being called a nerd, but comes to realize that friends and how they treat each other are more important than labels. Halpern's descriptions of high-school cliques, particularly the punk posers and the D&D fanatics, are hilarious and believable, and characters who seem to fit particular stereotypes suddenly show unexpected traits. The story's theme could easily become cliched, but this novel is particularly strong in showing how teen friendships evolve and sometimes die away, and how adolescents redefine themselves.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Jess loves audiobooks, sewing skirts, and the first day of school. She even gets along with her family, including Barrett, her rock-god older brother. She is, in short, a nerd, and feels immediate dread when she starts to grow apart from her two best friends, Bizza and Char, who underwent a punk makeover to fit in with Barrett's band. After Bizza goes after Jess' longtime crush and winds up with an STD, Jess ends the friendship. Karma, like Bizza, can be a bitch. With no clique to hang out with, Jess is lulled into the clutches of the Dungeons & Dragons crowd and finds herself falling for one of them! Halpern (Get Well Soon, 2007) realistically writes about teens coming to terms with their coming-of-age. Jess is anxious about embracing her inner nerdlinger, but emerges from the transformation secure in her self worth and seeking out the people who will support her. Reinvention is rarely so delightfully nerdy.--Jones, Courtney Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Sophomore Jessie Sloan is having a bad year. Her two closest friends are turning punk and boy-crazed; one of them even pursues Jessie's longtime crush. To make matters worse, Jessie's beloved older brother will soon be leaving for college. Jessie feels adrift and spends her time sewing skirts and listening to audiobooks. Halpern's (Get Well Soon) story picks up pace when class nerd Dottie introduces Jessie to Dungeons and Dragons, which Jessie (to her surprise) actually enjoys, leading her to a new group of friends as well as a heartfelt, if a little cliched, crush on a cute boy with his own nerdish tendencies. Jessie is a thoughtful, sympathetic narrator ("How is it that someone becomes a dork?... What makes some people like punk music and Denny's and other people like costumes and Dungeons and Dragons?"), and her fresh voice will reveal to readers just how independent and exceptional she is (even when Jessie can't see it herself). The relationships and dialogue ring true; readers navigating the stratified social structures of high school will relish an ending that celebrates true friendship. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved