The Summer I Became a Nerd
by Leah Rae Miller
Published by Entangled Teen
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Source: ARC provided by Publisher
On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.
Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.
The Summer I Became a Nerd kept a smile on my face the entire time I read it. Maddie was a fun character to read and laugh with (and, at times, laugh at). The prologue gives a glimpse of an incident in Maddie’s middle-school past, just one moment because sometimes that is all that it takes, that changed the course of her high-school future.
The beginning of her story is cracked me up as Maddie was waiting patiently to receive the final book of comic that she had faithfully followed for four-hundred issues. The description of getting the final book to series, the anticipation, the need to be just right to prepare to read it is spot on, and the author portrays the reactions that many book lovers can relate to.
I liked that she story didn’t show her transformation from the nerdy girl to the popular crowd. She was already there, but we did get to see the ways that she actively worked to fit in with the in-crowd - listening to music that her friends like, going to places where the popular kids hang-out, and avoiding things and places that are geeky or nerdy and would destroy the facade that she has created. But, as fate would have it, she does have to step into one of those places when, her beloved comic is back-ordered, she must go to the local comic book store to pick up a copy. The lengths that she goes to so that she won’t be recognized are hilarious, and of course she doesn’t fool anyone, especially the cute boy behind the counter who also happens to go to her school.
The first interactions between Maddie and Logan are pure comedy and quick wit. Their friendship didn’t seem forced and the writing made it easy to believe the chemistry between to two of them. And to find out that the inner-geek in Maddie already had a little crush on Logan made it even more exciting. But what I loved the most about their interactions was that they were awkward and cute and a little unsure which felt completely genuine. Also, I loved when Maddie was comfortable enough around Logan to let herself be geeky and do the things that she wanted to do without fear of being made fun of.
When Maddie’s friends finally do learn about her nerdy (her word) hobbies, the reaction she gets isn’t what she expected at all and is taken by surprise. She realizes that she may have judged them just as much (or more) as she feared they judged her.
This book was such a joy to read and it taught me a thing or two. I now know what LARPing is. (Live Action Role Playing) I knew that existed, but not exactly how it worked. I don’t think I will run out and try it any time soon, but again, now I know. The Summer I Became a Nerd will be a go-to book when I want some good laughs and need to put a smile on my face.
Fans of this book may also like Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton and Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin.
Disclaimer: I received this Advanced Readers Copy for review from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any compensation for providing this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.