Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

by Julie Halpern


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Punks, Poseurs, and Pervs—Just Another Day at High School

Jessie is so excited to start her sophomore year of high school, with her carefully planned outfits and her ample stash of school supplies. But things take an unexpected turn when everyone in her life changes. Her two best friends have gone poseur-punk and are both flirting with her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother is about to go off to college—and he shaved his Mohawk and started dating the homecoming queen. Jessie is suddenly clique-less. When she starts chatting up a girl in homeroom, she's surprised by an invite to join the Dungeons and Dragons crowd! Will hanging out with them make her a nerd? And when she sees how cute one of their members is, does it really matter?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312653071
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 04/12/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 585,746
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Julie Halpern is the author of Get Well Soon and Don't Stop Now, as well as the picture book Toby and the Snowflakes. In addition to writing, Julie is a middle-school librarian. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, lived in Australia for six months, and created a couple of zines before she started writing books, and realized she was and always has been a writer. She is married to the artist Matthew Cordell, and they live outside Chicago with their daughter and gloriously large Siamese cat, Tobin.

Read an Excerpt

Into The Wild Nerd Yonder

By Julie Halpern

Feiwel and Friends

Copyright © 2009 Julie Halpern
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-5506-5


I SO USED TO LOVE THE FIRST DAY of school. Ever since my mom let me pick out my first pair of first-day-of-school navy Mary Janes with the flower pattern puckered into the top, I knew I'd like the newness, yet revel in the sameness that the first day of school always brings. New pens I'll lose after first period, new schedules with the promise of a cool new teacher or intriguing new exchange student, and new classes to ace. Not in a braggy, nerdy way, just in an I'm-smart-and-I-kind-of-like-to-study way. It's not as though school defines me. Although, I guess I don't really know what defines me. Yet. Not like my best friends, Bizza and Char. Would it be lame to say that they define me?

Elizabeth Ann Brickman, or Bizza as she's been called since birth. (So I ask you: Why not just name her Bizza? I guess for the same reason my parents named me Jessica but call me Jessie. It's not really the same thing, though. Jessie's a pretty common name for an equally common girl. Unlike Bizza, uncommon in every way. Maybe that's why her mom decided to dub her only child Bizza, like how famous people name their kids after fruits and various other random unnamelike nouns — guaranteed un-anonymity.) Is it a name that lets someone know they're going to be different? Is it her name that makes her cocky and clever, weird but cool, funny but scary at the same time? Can a name do all of that? Or is it that everyone at Greenville High School knows Bizza because Bizza makes herself be known? If I truly wanted to, could I become infamous, too?

Not that I want to, but could I?

And then there's my other best friend, Char, who doesn't seem to have to try at all. Full name: Charlotte Antonia Phillips, every bit as gorgeous as her name implies, thin, but not skinny, tall, but not imposing, and hair so thick you could use it for climbing when in distress. If she were popular in the traditional high school use of the word she would be head cheerleader or prom queen or, I don't know, whatever else it is those "popular" people aspire to become. (Why are they referred to as "popular" anyway? That would suggest that everyone likes them, which is virtually impossible since popular people are notorious for treating the commoners like crap.) But popularity among the masses has never been anything that Bizza, Char, or I have aspired to. Which is why we've always been such great friends.

It started in first grade when the three of us convinced our teacher that the other students' lives would be empty without our fabulous lip-synching rendition of the movie Grease, so we gathered up any first graders willing to dance in front of people (amazing how it was so easy back then to find boys who weren't ashamed to dance) and any girl who was fine being relegated to one of the random, nameless Pink Ladies in the background. Bizza mouthed Rizzo's parts, Char mouthed Sandy's, and I was usually the Twinkie-loving Pink Lady Jan. At least my Pink Lady had a name, right?

Bizza, Char, and I have always had this fantastic creative energy, and a lot of funky things were born out of our friendship. In seventh grade we filmed one episode of a soap opera we created called Mucho Love (based on the telenovellas our Spanish teacher, Señora Goldberg, showed us in class). The soap was so funny, we actually got it aired on cable access (although I think cable access channels are legally required to air anything anyone sends them). Of course, Mucho Love wouldn't have been nearly as good if Bizza and Char hadn't convinced all of the hotties on the block to play the studly male leads. But that's why we work(ed) so well together: I bring the brains, they bring the brawn.

In eighth grade we started a band, The Chakras (Char thought it sounded "mystical"), and we all took up instruments. Bizza was, of course, the lead singer (without a care in the world that her voice sounded like the cries of a llama taking a particularly painful dump) and guitarist (her guitar playing wasn't much better than her singing). Char was the statuesque (and statuelike, since the only things she moved were her fingers) bass player. ("Chicks are always bass players," was her reasoning. My response: "Um, aren't we all chicks?") And I was the drummer, pounding away in the background. I didn't actually mind, since I was playing on Van Davis's drum kit. (Sigh.) And I'm pretty good. I think it goes along with my crazy math abilities. Sadly, The Chakas broke up after Bizza and Char decided that it was more interesting telling people we were in a band than actually practicing. They still tell people we're in a band. "But we're on hiatus." Bizza's words.

Now that we're in high school, being friends with Bizza and Char means I get invited to parties by the likes of Gina Betancourt and can experience firsthand what it's like to watch drunk people puke. It also means that at any of said parties, I practically don't even have to get dressed or fix my hair (not that it would matter anyway, since there is nothing I can do to perkify its straight brown blahness) because no one notices me anyway in Bizza's or Char's presence. Which I consider a good thing, most of the time.

But things are starting to change.

Last year, freshman year, I had the genius plan to start a sewing business. My mom has always made funny clothes for me, mainly for Halloween, but sometimes for other festive occasions (I look back fondly on my Arbor Day beret), and she taught me to sew last summer. My idea was to create simple, A-line skirts using a basic sewing pattern, but making them out of all of the hilarious fabrics they sell at fabric stores. It's insane what the bizarro fabric creators come up with (whose job is that anyway?): Jelly bean fabric. Prairie dog fabric. Coffee lover's fabric. They even have fabric for hunters: deer awaiting tragic death as they hang out in the woods. What kind of hunter would wear that pattern? Maybe hunters' wives like to make their hunter husbands little hunter pajamas. How quaint.

I thought the skirt thing was an obvious great idea, and Bizza and Char humored me for all of two days. Then they decided it was just "too home ec," and they'd rather hang out at the local Denny's. Denny's is where my brother, Barrett (two years older, completely adorable, the only boy at school with an orange mohawk), and his freakster friends hang out, drink coffee, and smoke (not Barrett, though, who believes, and I quote, "I'd rather my mouth tasted like the zebra-y goodness of Fruit Stripe gum than of someone's ass"). Barrett took me to Denny's a few times last year, trying to be all big brotherly, but it wasn't really my scene. His friends, for the most part, are pretty nice to me. Instead of looking through me (like the people at Gina Betancourt's party), they usually try to include me in their conversations. But their conversations are about music ninety-nine percent of the time, and I don't care enough about the Scrapheaps or the Turdmunchers or the Firepoos (I may have some of the names incorrect, due to my entire lack of interest) to converse about them. Ironically, I have filled in for the drummer (the aforementioned and insanely gorgeous Van) of Barrett's band, the Crudhoppers, during several practices, but I don't really listen to the music we're playing. That may sound impossible, but I'm so busy counting and trying to keep up the punk-fast pace that I don't really have the option of listening. It's funny how some of Barrett's friends think I'm his punky kid sister, when really I'm just some mathlete who'd rather be sewing Thanksgiving skirts in her bedroom while listening to an audiobook.

I glaze over the Crudhoppers' Denny's conversations and try to hold in my coughs as Van and Pete Mosely puff smoke rings and stank up my clothes. Bizza and Char, however, think the Denny's smoking section is the absolute of cool and berate me every time I fail to invite them when Barrett drags me along. (I also fail to mention to them that after Barrett invites me, he says, "Jessie, why don't you leave the two poseurettes at home tonight." Part of me feels guilty because I know they want to be there, but part of me thinks I deserve to be the attention girl, even if it is overed in a cloud of smoke.)

The worlds of the poseurettes and the freaksters collided this summer when Bizza decided that a nightly hang at Denny's was a must. Gaggingly, she even picked up the classy habit of smoking because "it's the only way we'll look cool sitting in the smoking section." Char bought a pack of clove cigarettes, claiming they tasted good, to which I ask why doesn't she just go suck on a clove so I don't have to inhale her perfumed secondhand smoke? Not to mention the damage it can do to my skirts. Even though Bizza and Char would rather make holes in their lungs (and mine) than make skirts, I am still way into the sewing. My goal is to sew enough skirts this summer to have a different skirt for every day of the school year. So far I have over seventy skirts (including skirts I started last summer, but not including the fifteen or so I made and sold at our school's summer craft fair). Bizza and Char have been too busy trying to infiltrate Barrett's crew to notice.

The final month of summer became a smoky Denny's extravaganza. The 'Hoppers were there almost every night, and since Bizza had made her mind up, we were there every night, too. Such a bummer because the end of summer is usually so amazing. Yeah, the back-to-school sales are unbelievable, but there's also something about the August air that's the perfect blend of summer and fall. It's so warm and wonderful. Bizza, Char, and I have spent every August since forever together in Bizza's backyard "tree house" (a floor of wood shoved into the top of her weeping willow tree) looking up at the sky and playing Would You Rather? Now I play Would You Rather? in my head every night we're at Denny's:

Would I rather

a) Be in the Denny's smoking section

b) Eat a live turtle, shell included

c) Lick a turkey's ass

Yeah. Tough call these days.

I have always held a mix of admiration and embarrassment for Bizza. It's amazing how she gets people to pay attention to her, something I could never do, and how she thinks she is so good at everything. Even when she sucks (as in her singer/guitarist days), she thinks she's a star. When she gets a seventy-five on a test, she thinks it's because the teacher doesn't know how to teach. And when a guy doesn't like her (god forbid), he's obviously gay. And on one dark and smoky night when Barrett drove the three of us to Denny's, she somehow managed to convince him that it would be acceptable to let us join the Crudhoppers' table. When we arrived at the smoky booth, Bizza gestured to me with her eyes as though I was supposed to introduce, or maybe even announce, her.

"Um, hey, guys." I tried to sound casual.

"Hey, Jessie." Van smiled. I always wondered if the reason Van was nice to me was because Barrett told him that I'd had a major crush on him since sixth grade. I had been borderline crushing on him for a while, as younger sisters do on their brother's friends, but then I had this über-omantic dream about him, which changed the status from borderline to obsessed. Van has this amazing smile, a freaky cool crooked nose, and dark hair that looks so perfectly imperfect. "Who are your friends?" Van asked, smacking me back into the reality that almost anyone is more interesting than me.

"This is Bizza. This is Char." The guys smiled and nodded as the girls charmed their way into the squished booth. I pulled up a chair. Coffees were ordered (loaded with cream and sugar), cancer sticks were puffed, and conversation followed the usual, musical route, but with many vapid Bizza interjections:

"That new Smokin' Chokes CD is shit. Why'd they replace Emery Gladen?" A 'Hopper mused.

"I love the new color of your hair, Van. How do you get it to stay so black?" Bizza blathered. This could have bothered me more, except any conversation between Bizza and a guy sounds flirty. Kind of annoying, but meaningless and completely the norm.

"We gotta get ready for our show at the Interoom. Our new songs aren't tight enough," a 'Hopper suggested.

"Did you get those shoes at Nordstrom, Eric? I totally saw them there. I almost got the same ones," Bizza noted importantly.

Each summer night was filled with identically inane conversations. All I wanted to do was stay home and sew, and look forward to the joyous day that I'd go back to school and homework and all of the smart-girl excuses I get to use so as not to waste my life at Denny's every night. I frequently tried telling Bizza that I had some sewing I wanted to finish this summer, but she would just say something like, "Whatever, Holly Hobby, you can sew later. We'll miss you if you're not with us," which made me feel simultaneously good and bad. Bizza is an expert at that.

So my final nights of summer were wasted with mediocrity and cigarettes. Barrett drove us to Denny's, Bizza acted like Bizza, and, as usual, her magical Bizzabilities charmed the pants off of them. Not literally, of course. The conversations turned away from music and moved to food, TV, movies — anything that Bizza deemed worthy of chatter. As the days went by, my skirts got smokier, and the weeping willow tree house got lonelier. Thank god, the summer is just about over.

Yeah, I used to like the first day of school. Until my best friends decided to turn punk.


WHAT THE BUTT? I ALREADY HAVE A Mr. Punk Rock Cool Guy brother; I don't need Punk Rock Wannabe friends. And today is their big debut: the first day of school, where summer can transform anyone and it's almost always accepted. Like Jenna Marny, who left school after eighth grade a fat, invisible nobody and came back a skinny, nose-jobbed somebody. Now she's going out with the captain of the soccer team. Or lacrosse. Or maybe both? Summer can do that to a person. Now Bizza and Char can be added to the list of the Great Transformed.

As I get ready for school (choosing a homemade skirt with pencils and rulers for first-day-of-school flare), I brush my straight brown hair, the same hair I've had for the past five years. (Obviously it's the same hair I've always had, but I mean the same "style." The only style, really, that my hair will do.) I sort of have a fear of trying anything different than shoulder length, parted a tad off to the side, ever since the Mushroom Cut Debacle of third grade. Who knew that, shortened, my hair would fluff up and become bizarrely fungi-shaped? The trauma left me with no choice but to leave my hair as is for the rest of my life, to ensure that nothing hair embarrassing ever happens again.

I experiment a little with some fun eye shadow colors and decide that green looks best with my brown eyes. I don't normally wear makeup because I'm too lazy and tired in the morning (and besides, what's the point? It's not like anyone else would notice.) but it's always easy for me to wake up on the first day of school. The excitement of new classes, seeing people who I like in an everyday way but not an outside-of-school way, and organizing my locker always springs me to life. Not to mention the joy of finally getting to legitimately use all of the school supplies that I've been hoarding for weeks. I follow every back-to-school sale in the Sunday paper, compare prices, highlight the ads, visit all of the necessary stores, and then hide the supplies in my genuinely worn, not faux-distressed, red backpack. I love opening the backpack on First Day of School Eve and — surprise! — there's all my new stuff.

I take one last look in the mirror before heading down to breakfast. I look kind of cute in my new skirt and eye shadow. Not much different than last year, but not all of us are dying to turn into someone else. Most of the time, anyway.

At breakfast, Mom and Dad run around, grabbing for newspapers and coffee cups. Both of them are teachers, although we like to refer to Mom as Doc, since she received her Ph.D. in education last year. I never quite understood how regular teachers could turn into doctors. (Like our old, horrid, Southern gym teacher, Dr. Stunter. What did she have a Ph.D. in — Dodgeball? Rope climbing? Child torture?) until Mom spent three grueling years in night school. Not that I'm not grateful, since it forced Dad to hone his cooking skills and prove once and for all that a man's place is in the kitchen. At least in my house.

Dr. and Mr. Sloan always leave the house a little before me and Barrett, to uphold the appearance that all teachers do, in fact, live in their classrooms. Both of them are wearing suits, which they usually do for the first week or two of school to scare the children into thinking they're serious teachers. After that, it's all Dad can do not to wear his ratty old Cubs hat to work (to cover up his ever-expanding bald spot), although Mom usually at least wears skirts until the slush of winter forces her into cords. She keeps her makeup to a minimum, and her hair is straight and brown, like mine, but in permanent mom-bob. People always tell us we look alike.


Excerpted from Into The Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. Copyright © 2009 Julie Halpern. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Into the Wild Nerd Yonder 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Jessie doesn't know where she belongs in high school anymore. Her best friends have turned into overnight punks. Her punk rock brother is dating the prom princess. In a quest to find new friends, Jessie stumbles upon the Dungeons and Dragons crowd. But if she ventures into the wild nerd yonder, can she ever come back? I love Julie Halpern - she writes with so much humor and heart that it makes for a great read. As a fellow nerd, I adored Jessie's journey to the nerd side. Granted, Jessie was never a super-popular girl herself. She claims to be a mathlete and her hobby is sewing various skirts made from fun themed fabric. (I wish I could sew just to do that, too!) But Jessie knows the D&D crowd is a new level of nerd and she doesn't know if she's ready to go there. Aside from the nerd storyline, there's also a great storyline about what makes a true friend. And we all know friendships don't suddenly become easier because you get older. Honestly, I hated Bizza (one of Jessie's punk-turned-best friends). She was an uber jerk, but like many people in that situation, Jessie didn't see it. I was cheering her on the whole way to stand up for herself. What I liked most about this book is that the nerds aren't all that nerdy. Sure, Jessie's embarrassed about the D&D crowd, but when you get down to it, they're just normal people having fun with a hobby they enjoy. After finishing this one, I told my husband I need to nerd it up more. (Not sure how to do that really, since I'm pretty nerdy already.) But INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER made me miss my nerdy high school days of gushing over Star Trek and The X-Files and writing fan fiction (and yes, acting out our fan fiction in my friend's basement). I even have an interest in giving Dungeons and Dragons a try sometime! Nerd or not, I think anyone who has ever tried to break into a new clique or struggled with friendship will enjoy INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER. Plus, there's some nerdy love that's so super cute!!
MaisieD More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book! The characters were real, and they had real problems. In this world of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts (oh my!), this was definitely refreshing! Jessie, like many teens, is trying to figure out who she is, and the friends that she has had since forever, are changing (for the VERY worst!). She starts hanging out with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd (even though she is embarrassed at first). She soon becomes comfortable with herself. I also enjoyed the fact that she had an AMAZING relationship with her older brother and her parents. Throughout the book, she was having a hard time dealing with the fact that her brother would be going off to college the next year.
ACQwoods on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At 5:30 this Saturday, I walked upstairs and asked my husband "How do you know when a book was great?" He smirked at me and answered "I'm guessing it's when you just read the whole thing in two hours." He was right. I sat down Saturday afternoon with Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, not knowing what to expect, and was immediately drawn in. The book chronicles' Jessie's sophomore year of high school, when the two best friends she has had since she was a toddler decide they want to become punks and Jessie isn't sure where she fits in any more. Based on that sentence, I'm sure you can tell that this could be just another teen coming of age story, but Julie's character is so clever, funny, and real that it loses any concerns about being cheesy. It is made stronger by the great supporting cast, including her older brother Barrett and her quirky parents. Jessie is smart and enjoys school, but worries about being nerdy, something I could definitely relate to. Is it better to be lonely and unlabeled or throw yourself in with a fun group that others call nerdy? I absolutely adored this book as it is just plain fun.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jessie¿s sophomore year of high school is not going so well. Her two best friends have turned into wannabe punks, and her beloved older brother is leaving for college soon. Lost and in need of new friends, Jessie stumbles across the Dungeons & Dragons-playing crowd¿truly the nerdiest of the nerdy, even by her standards. But as she gets to know the people in the group¿and maybe even finds a cute guy to crush on¿Jessie realizes that nerds can make really good friends¿INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER is a cute and heartfelt look into the treacherous waters that is high school friendships. While it didn¿t make me fall in love with it as it did with many others, INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER was still a charming read with excellent characters.Jessie is a likable protagonist, with her sewing tendencies, warm-hearted worries, and self-proclaimed nerdiness. She¿s nerdy, but not in a way that will put off readers/potential friends. She has such a healthy relationship with her family¿her relationship with her brother is particularly touching¿that the focus of the book can be off the stereotypical teen family angst and more about worries regarding friendships.While the characters (and, indeed, the whole storyline) are not exceptionally deep or memorable, everything has the pleasant feel-good entertainment value of, say, a Disney Channel original movie: the ¿villains¿ are not irredeemably bad, the problems inconvenient but not devastating. The plot moved along at a leisurely pace so that the second half of the book, in which Jessie finds new friends, feels a bit rushed.However, these are not failings but simply characteristics of the genre that INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER falls into: an easy and light read with characters who make us smile and a moral that makes us nod in recognition. If this is the type of read you¿re reading for, look no further than this one.
ethel55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Halpern has written a great story with a very real heroine named Jessie. From the sewing hobby to her reservations about Dungeons and Dragons and choice of audio books, Jessie is gal worth reading about.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Merideth says: I really liked Jessie. She seems like the kind of girl I'd like to hang out with, and she has excellent taste in books. She seems very comfortable in her life, and has great relationships with her brother and parents. While I was annoyed with her preoccupation with looking like a nerd, I know that being "cool" is something that takes up a lot of teenager's mental energy, so Halpern probably got that right. What I really liked was how excited Jessie was about D&D, how much she enjoyed the game. Role playing isn't an area of the geek forest that I ever really explored much, but anyone who's watched as much Doctor Who as I have has no right to judge anybody. One thing I do wish is that this book has a better cover. For some reason, this one reminds me of paper dolls.
wsquared on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jess is perfectly content staying home on Friday nights sewing her signature skirts, but her longtime friends would rather hang out with her brother¿s punk rock buddies. So Jess looks for a new crowd to hang out with and finds herself playing D&D with a group of lovable nerds. For anyone who has felt like they don¿t fit in, Halpern has crafted a fun novel about letting your true self shine.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure I was going to like Halpern's book, especially because I worried this would be like one of those cliche high school movies. In fact, it was nothing of the sort. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is far more than just a book about high school. It's about feeling left out, about being different, about figuring out what friends are. And, most of all, it's one of the few books that gives geeks/nerds, especially gaming kind, an extremely good name. The book was exceptionally fun, hilarious and with a few moments of sadness. There's no need to be a geek or a nerd to enjoy this book.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jessie has had it with her best friend Bizza. Now she needs to find some new friends. Can she deal with being part of the nerd herd?
meteowrite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's hard to say if it was the cover of this book that caught my eye, or the title. The cover is bright pink, speckled with 20 sided dice and features a ren-faire style dress. The title (and the subtitle) were also intriguing : Into the Wild Nerd Yonder : My Life on the Dork Side. The plot here is not that surprising. Jessie is gearing up for her sophomore year of high school, and her friends decide to become punk groupies, shaving their heads and hanging out with Jessie's brother's band. Suddenly, Jessie feels like she doesn't have a place in the world. She's interested in making skirts out of zany fabric, listening to audiobooks and math. She starts to connect with two girls she has class with. One is a band geek. The other is a Dungeons and Dragons player. They are both far more interesting than her old friends. But can she really give up her slightly cool status for nerdom? It was a little predictable, but the characters made this a good read. I particularly liked Jessies older brother, who got out of his punk band to date the prom queen. Jessie also had excellent taste in her books, in the course of "Into the Wild Nerd Yonder," she listens to :
AxelleDarkleigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
it was hilarous. i fully and truelly loved it. i read it over and over again!!!
galleysmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is an excellent story that demonstrates how childhood friends grow up and grow apart. Jessie has always been the nerdiest girl in her group of three ¿ making her own skirts out of silly fabrics so as to wear a new one each day of the week ¿ so when Bizza and Char start to take a particular interest in her older brother¿s punked out friends she finds herself increasingly distant from the crowd.More than your average alienated teen story, Into the Wild Nerd Yonder showcases how Jessie is relatively comfortable with who she is and learns to embrace it. She has made the conscious decision to be different but not without fear ¿ she doesn¿t want to be completely excommunicated from her longtime girlfriends but she definitely wants to be part of a group that accepts her just the way she is. This story focuses on the journey Jessie takes between the two.Halpern¿s choice to write the main character as a girl who favors her differences over succumbing to peer pressure makes the story all the more appealing and endearing. That Jessie struggles with how it all fits together makes the story all that more real for the reader. She doesn¿t just automatically dump her old friends in favor of others (as it is being done to her) it takes a good deal for her to break from that crowd. Also, she isn¿t entirely sure that moving into the alternative social circle is the best choice either. She¿s very thoughtful and deliberate with the decisions she makes.Jessie¿s bold choice to befriend the Dungeons and Dragons crowd shows Halpern¿s ability to write a character of great strength and integrity. The fact that she finds her first love as part of the crowd adds to her depth ¿ she¿s not going for looks or status but rather a true emotional connection. This is an outstanding lesson to teach young girls navigating through this same time in their lives.I don¿t want to sound like this is a book for just the girls because I honestly believe that young boys should embrace it as well. Jessie¿s older brother Barrett finds himself in a similar situation as well. Only his journey is one moving in the opposite direction. He¿s standing up to his punk bandmates and not only changing his appearance but also supports his sister and chooses a girl that wouldn¿t typically be embraced by his former friends. He falls in love with a homecoming queen not for her beauty but for her intelligence.So you get my point here right? You understand what I¿m getting at? Lessons on individuality and non-coformist behavior aside Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is just a fun book to read. The characters are interesting and quirky, the situations they find themselves in are different and filled with some good comedy and emotion, and ultimately it¿s an endearing read that anyone can enjoy.
alimcc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For as long as she can remember, it has been the three of them: Jess, Bizza, and Char. But during the summer after their freshman year, things change and Jess finds herself in need of a change. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is the story of Jess, an average high school sophomore who enjoys math and sewing her own skirts. She has always been close with her two best friends, but a betrayal over the summer has left her abruptly at odds with one of them. Bizza and Char's decision to reinvent themselves as "punk-rock queens" solidifies Jess's fears that the three have grown apart. So when Jess begins chatting with the uber-nerd in her homeroom class and is invited to play dungeons and dragons, she eventually says yes. This decision is made easier by the fact that one of the D&D nerds happens to be really cute (in a nerdy sort of way). When she finds herself enjoying their company, Jess must decide what really matters in life, and just who she wants to be. Halpern's story is funny, original, and feels realistic. She easily captures the dialogue of a young girl struggling with who she is and what she wants to be, along with the mundane but seemingly significant aspects of high school life. The "nerds," as well, manage to live up to their social stigma without being flat or stereotypical characters. The story manages to be simple and realistic but still infinitely entertaining, without an abundance of teen angst, fantastical situations, or dramatic declarations of love. Into the Wild Nerd Yonder is a fun, funny, and ultimately sweet story. Because it deals with some somewhat "mature" material, such as oral sex and sexually transmitted diseases, it is recommended without hesitation for grades 9-12.
frood42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At the start of their sophomore year of high school, Jessie's two best friends, Bizza and Char, transform themselves into punks to gain the attention of Jessie's brother's band. Jessie is frustrated with her friends' artificial punk personae and how they use her to get access to the band, but the worst offense occurs when Bizza chases after Jessie's longtime crush, Van. When Jessie decides it is time for new friends, she unexpectedly finds herself falling in with the Dungeons and Dragons crowd. Jessie is an entertaining and sarcastic narrator with a unique personality-- her passion is for sewing skirts from unusual material and a goal of having a different skirt for every day of the school year. The book's primary theme is that people have depth beyond the stereotypes that identify them, and appropriately all the characters are multi-faceted and complex. Even Bizza, the main antagonist, has enough depth that the reader understands why the girls were friends to begin with. Later scenes between Bizza and Jessie realistically portray the complicated situation of two long-time friends who have grown apart. Jessie's personal struggles are well developed, and readers will sympathize with her conflicting feelings about Van, as well as her insecurities about being accepted by a new group and concerns that hanging out with the 'geeks' will destroy her reputation. This is an entertaining read about navigating the cliquey world of high school, though it could have benefited from more scenes between Jessie and her new D&D friends. Some sexual content and language makes this book most appropriate for high school age readers.
Knicke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book probably deserves more than two stars, but I was disappointed enough that I'm only giving it two. Lots of potential, and a good message (although a little heavy handed on the 'if you have unsafe sex, you will be sorry!' bits) and flashes of realism, but heavily, heavily reliant on stereotypes and cultural touchstones that won't last. As a nerd, I wanted more. There is so much more to nerds than marching band and D&D and LARPing - not that there's anything wrong those, but on their own, they are a lazy way of telegraphing "neeerrrrrddd".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great YA book!  Even though I am an adult, I remember that high school friendships can be difficult.  This story is one I would recommend to a friend and I definitely want my kids to read when they are old enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read , i laughed to this relatable tale . Great storytelling
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, it had a strongly written female character who was charming and a new fresh plot overall. Though it was predictable, and instead of having a strong end and a good start it had a strong start and weak end which didn't make a ladting impresssion. I would recommend this book if you wanted a light and quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thomas Grieve More than 1 year ago
Very different book... very refreshing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago