Usually, I do my YA collection development with a mixture of reviews, blogs, patron requests, and publisher's catalogs. Occasionally, I'll take a stack of books and skim through them for highlights. Sometimes, I'll take some ya books home, skim through them, take them back to the library. I'm just not a YA person, excepting the occasional fantasy.
I took Into the Wild Nerd Yonder home to skim quite a while ago. Being in the throes of clearing out my crammed library book shelf, I scooped it up to skim. I skimmed. I went back to the beginning and read it cover to cover. I went back and read my favorite parts aloud to my sister, who is spending the weekend with me (we are having a wild party here, including chinese food, walks in the freezing snow, movies and books, and a trip to the zoo in the offing. we socialites are hard to keep up with).
Jessie is getting ready for the first day of her sophomore year. In the past, she's had two best friends, Char and Bizzie, who aren't the super popular girls but they are the super cool girls. She and her friends have spent the summer hanging out with her brother Barrett's punk band friends at Denny's, even though Jessie secretly would have preferred to spend the summer dreaming and sewing her collection of novelty-fabric skirts. Jessie arrives at school the first day....and discovers that her friends have decided to Go Punk and suddenly her long-time crush from her brother's band is paying attention to her. She doesn't really want to like him, she knows he's not a Nice Person, but....and then things....happen. Jessie decides it's time to find new friends and a new clique. But does she really want to hang out with the nerds?
Jessie's voice is perfect. Wanting to fit in and be cool, but hating herself for caring. Feeling invisible and talentless, but mad that people don't recognize the things she can do. This is a witty, funny, sometimes sad, excellently crafted look at labels, growing up, and friendship.
Other things I loved about this story were Jessie's sewing, her relationship with her family (especially her brother), her growing discovery that people can't be dumped into categories, little bits of romance but not too much, and the hilarious renfaire ending.
The story is about older high school students and does involve references to sex and some bad language, but nothing gratuitous. In other words, if you're a high school student you've heard worse.
Verdict: I loved this story and highly recommend it.
ISBN: 0312382529; Published September 2009 by Feiwel and Friends; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library