Author: Julie Halpern
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published Date: September 2009
Price: Amazon ($11.55)
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!) . . .
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?
Halpern is not an author, but a creator; she is God in Into The Wild Nerd Yonder. Jessie literally became my new best friend, someone I can relate to and confide in. Her personality and character development really jumps off the page with her snarky, but sincere, tone. I loved how Jessie contained all the issues of a teenager, the changing environment, the worry of fitting in and society’s standards, but is humorous, as she almost seems to be talking to the reader, sharing snide remarks and jokes, confiding her insecurities with the reader. I also loved the development of the brother and sister relation between Jessie. Their relation is unique and maybe because I have a younger sister, who I constantly fight with, I found Barrett caring and protecting Jessie was adorable. Usually, I would be disappointed that there was no relationship development or problems between the families. However, I felt that adding it would detract from Jessie’s journey of finding her personality and who she really is. I loved how Halpern used Barrett’s own transformation to date the prom queen to support Jessie in breaking out of her shell, and as a supporting plot device.
I find the D&D a hilarious addition, the whole nerd gang making jokes and playing with each other. And Henry was absolutely adorable, lol, “slushy-blue eyes”. Jessie’s gradual acceptance of being a “nerd” and ignoring all social commentary, and her unique personality, had a great thematic ring to it that I think all teenagers can be related to. Everyone has always been worried about not being included in the “in” group and wanted to be popular. The punk addition and the unique creation of the D&D role playing made this book stand out in developing the theme of self-discovery.
However, I wish the second part of the plot was developed and were dedicated more pages to. I loved the first part, even though there were some sexual references that some people might squirm while reading, but Jessie’s wanting for a different and new life, away from her “friends”. The actual meat of the plot, including the romance between Henry and the budding friendship between Jessie and the rest of the D&D gang was rushed into the last part.
Characters: 4/5Cover: 3/5
I loved the combination between the math dodecahedral and the medieval dress. I also just noticed this sadly, the question mark really does symbolize Jessie’s search for her personality. But I felt that the design of the cover as a whole with random dodecahedral flying in the background made the book seem too childish, my first impression, but really the book is quite the opposite.
The sarcastic and humorous tone of Jessie’s monologue, which make it seem as if the reader and Jessie are close friends, really make the book enjoyable. Her character development and the execution of the theme of not trying to be “in” was really executed well, without all the corniness. I really do hope that there was more romance between Henry and more narration about the D&D gang.