In seventeen years, Sugar Magnolia (call her Maggie) Dempsey hasn't lived anywhere for longer than eight months. Her parents are hippies who believe that people aren't meant to stay in one place, and that "Life is short, so why not see as much as possible?" Nice thoughts, and up until recently, their way of life hadn't bothered her. Until, that is, they decided to leave Portland, Oregon, where Maggie had a boyfriend -- and until said boyfriend dumped her via text message before she'd even reached her new home in Austin.
She's about to start school (at her tenth high school), and she's figured out a plan: rather than make friends, only to have to leave them again, she's going to NOT make friends. So Maggie sets out to be a loser.
How NOT to be Popular is basically a teen movie in book format: Girl comes up with plan, doesn't think about the inherent cruelty of said plan, ends up liking the people she's using, is wrecked when they are angry. A mean cheerleader figures in. Nothing new, but it's entertaining and funny.
I loved her parents (and their car!), though they didn't really feel like real people. Actually, quite a few of the characters in the book were just that -- characters. Penny was the one I liked the most and was the most curious about, but I never felt like I got to know her*.
Due to the gorgeous cover (love the colors) and good copy on the back, I suspect that YAs will pick this one up without any outside encouragement. The book's design looks much more like an adult book than a teen novel -- I wonder if the YA will eventually splinter into older and younger YA. Or maybe I'm just thinking too much again.
*That's not a flaw -- it makes sense within the story line.