How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  288

RAC Book:  Yes

Steph Landry accidently spilled a drink on the most popular girl, Lauren, in sixth grade, and Lauren never let anyone forget it.  In fact, Steph Landry’s name has now morphed into an insult as she has gotten older.  For example, if someone trips someone else might yell, “Way to pull a Steph Landry!”  Steph does have two close friends, Becca and Jason, but she longs for the days when she wasn’t a joke. 

Steph’s grandfather has recently come into some money after selling some of his land so that a save-a-lot could be built.  Steph’s mother, a bookstore owner, is not happy about this since she believes it will drive out all other businesses and as a result has refused to go to her dad’s wedding to Kitty.  Kitty just happens to be Jason’s grandmother. 

Steph decides to take matters into her own hands when she finds an old book in Kitty’s attick called How to be Popular.  By following the book’s advice, Steph does start to get noticed more, but she also alienates her good friends and Lauren makes it her mission to get back at her for making her look bad in front of the other cool kids.  In the end, Steph is faced with a tough decision, but by facing it she also has to face her future as a high school student.  Who does she really want to be?  Who does she really want to be friends with?  How can she gain respect from her peers?  How important is her family to her? 

The voice in this book is interesting and many girls will be able to identify with Steph’s desire for popularity.  It is nice to see that she doesn’t become a mindless drone who will do anything the popular kids ask her to do, however.  The ending is a little bit cheesy, but Cabot fans always like their happy endings.  Popularity is an issue in almost any situation, but in high school it seems especially important.  This story does a nice job of putting it into perspective and showing that popularity isn’t everything and there is no formula for becoming happy with yourself.

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