Humphrey, Anna. 2011. MISSION (UN)POPULAR. New York: Hyperion.
ISBN 9781423123019 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]
Twelve-year-old Margot Button is a self-proclaimed total social dork, but at the start of school and entering seventh grade, she aspires to fit in and be popular by vowing to change her ways. However, things simply don’t work out, what with a tarot-reading mom, bald, boring Brian, her step-dad, and identical triplet sisters. After losing her best friend to a private school, Margot is befriended by a new girl with a shady past who isn’t afraid to stand up to the popular crowd, one who isn’t beyond including a few lies. Margot eventually finds her way through the tricky maze of middle school, friendships, and truth.
The hilarious events taking over Margot’s life will allow middle school readers to laugh, sympathize, and acknowledge the difficulties happening at this age and let them relate to her woes. The strong writing and book length matches well with good readers and it is a book, while true to middle schoolers, that is completely appropriate for this age group.
The story of friendship and growing up is universal in theme, but MISSION (UN) POPULAR puts a hilarious spin on the trials and tribulations of defining one’s life during this awkward, earnest age.
This book would make an excellent selection for a middle school book club. Drawing on Margot’s efforts, young people could discuss what aspects of character are important and talk about their short and long-term goals. Life choices is another topic for group discussion.
Other humorous, coming-of-age books about middle school:
Geithner, Carole. IF ONLY. ISBN 9780545234993
Sheldon, Dyan. THE CRAZY THINGS GIRLS DO FOR LOVE. ISBN 9781455829613
By Shirley Duke