Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Jessie is a pretty intelligent girl. She has always enjoyed school, even if her two best friends are not exactly honors students. As she approaches the beginning of her sophomore year of high school, she also starts to realize that maybe her best friends aren't who she thought they were...all summer they drag her along so they have an excuse to hang out with Jessie's brother's punk bandmates. She is forced to spend many evenings at Denny's inhaling second-hand smoke.

While she likes her brother, and has a hopeless crush on his band's drummer, Van, the resident playboy. Apparently, so does Jessie's best friend Bizza, to Jessie's dismay. When Bizza and Char show up for the first day of school all punked out, complete with Bizza's shaved head, she starts to question how much they really have in common anymore. Her summer hobby was creating a new skirt for every day of the school year, and she has arrived in her "pencils and rulers" number for the first day...her friends hardly notice, too busy being caught up in their own transformations.

As an honors student, Jessie has some class friends that seem to notice more than her supposed best friends. In English, Polly tells her about the guy she met at band camp. At lunch, her crush Van randomly takes her to lunch (and asks her to pay for it), causing serious confusion in Jessieland. In study hall, Dottie is the resident Dungeons and Dragons geek. She seems to be surrounded by two very different worlds...

Things only get worse later than day when Bizza shows up hand-in-hand with Van, and can't wait to tell Jessie that they "made out! Aahhh! Isn't he so scrumptious?" What kind of a friend steals your crush? Things seem to be getting out of control, fast. Didn't Van go to lunch with her that same day?

When Jessie tells her brother Barrett about the latest Van victim, it seems to be the final straw, and the band breaks up. Jessie starts looking for friends in unexpected places, and it turns out maybe geeks aren't as bad as she thought.

"...I feel good that I have definite plans for Friday night. That jerky voice in my head pipes up before I can stop it and says, You're going to play Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of nerds on a Friday night? Are those really the kind of new friends you want to be making? I glance over at Dottie, who flashes me the thumbs-up. Am I ready for this to be my new social life?" (Halpern pg. 106, 2009).

If you liked this, check out:

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen
An Off Year by Claire Zulkey

Halpern, Julie. (2009). Into the Wild Nerd Yonder. Harrisonburg, VA: R.R. Donnelly and Sons Company.

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