The Popularity Project by Joddie Zeng

The Popularity Project

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Debut YA romance following a nerd on the road to prom queen.

Superstar high school student Ariella Winters is laser-focused on her future. She has ignored her social life in favor of finishing her high school credits early and even completing some college-level course work. A teacher at her private school devises a special project for Ariella and the few other high achievers at her school. Each student must attend a local public school for six months and tackle one nonacademic weakness. Ariella is assigned socializing—or, more specifically, popularity. As an introvert and social curmudgeon, Ariella must infiltrate the popular crowd at her new school and learn something in the process. Although she attempts to wriggle out of the assignment, her bubbly best friend, Flora, and Ariella’s aunt (her temporary guardian) find the experiment a wonderful idea. With only one weekend to prepare for her new life, Ariella allows Flora to drag her to the mall for a much-needed makeover. A new hairstyle, contact lenses, and several shopping bags later, Ariella is an insta-hottie. When she begins at her new school, she has a secret weapon (besides her new crop top and surprisingly killer abs): the son of the principal, who happens to be a junior class alpha male, has been enlisted to bring Ariella into the fold. In no time at all, the boys are tripping over themselves to impress Ariella, especially superjock and resident heartthrob Ashton Walker. Ariella spends time with Ashton, for the sake of her project, of course. Before long, she discovers some of Ashton’s secrets and begins to understand that popular kids are real people. Maybe Ariella still has something left to learn after all. Although the story requires a suspension of disbelief with regard to many of the logistics, it’s absorbing from the start. As narrator, Ariella is engaging and endearing as she tackles many universal teen issues with wisdom and grace. Other characters are more complex than they initially appear, and the book’s fast pace and modern language make it a winning choice for teenage romance fans.

A high school fairy tale perfect for those who love second chances and happy endings.

Publisher: AuthorHouse
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2015