When it’s summer, I think my brain kind of slows to a crawl. I just cannot handle big heavy lofty tomes filled with ideas and philosophy. So, I turn to books that would fall on the lighter side of contemporary. There’s something about them that my brain finds easy to comprehend. I also tend to turn to contemporary right after I read a really heavy book, like oh, say Rose Under Fire as a sort of palate cleanser. Y’all, The Summer I Became A Nerd by Lean Rae Miller totally cleansed my palate after I read the super heavy companion to Code Name Verity. Suffice to say, Miller’s debut was totally different, but wonderful and fun and light and healing in it’s own way. It’s quite a pleasure to read about a girl who has these deeply hidden nerd-urges come to grips with who she really is — a cheerleader who loves comic books and LARP-ing.
Madelyne Summers is 17 years old and about to begin the summer before her senior year. She’s popular and cool and on the cheerleading team. BUT she has a secret! SHE LIKES COMIC BOOKS! GASP! In real life, I am not sure this would be such a huge deal but who knows I might be out of touch given that I am an old. Anyways, Maddie keeps her love of comic books on the down low because when she was a little kid she entered a costume contest dressed as one of her favorite super heroes and ended up being totally made fun of. Obviously that stuff is scarring, so she decided to totally change and become cool. When the very last issue of her favorite comic book comes out, Maddie has to absolutely have it, only it’s backordered and it won’t secretly come to her house from the internet SO Maddie has to go to the local comic book shop, only omg what if someone sees her? In disguise, she goes to grab an issue only to come across Logan, a cute boy in her class working at the store. Y’all, this is about to get complicated! You see, Logan is not in the popular crowd and Maddie dates the star quarterback but yo, she is so attracted to Logan. AND SO, she begins hanging out with him in secret and he lets her in on the nerdy side of Natchitoches, Louisiana. And the central question is who is the real Maddie? Popular Maddie or nerdy Maddie?
Straight up, I was okay with Madelyne Summers. On the one hand, I found her kind of annoying because she had this huge need to hide her interests and was totally fake with her friends. On the other hand, I could identify with her because it’s not like I am entirely forthcoming about my blog — I mean, if people ask I tell them and most of my friends know. However, I am not exactly linking it on my personal facebook or linkedin or anything. I do get it, I get why Maddie feels like she can’t tell people she’s into fantasy and video games as she was totally burned by it. Yet, much like Logan I found that I was losing patience with her. Alas, not everyone is okay with letting their freak flags fly and as a reader, I am learning to be okay with that when it comes to characters. OH OH but I did like how The Summer I Became A Nerd allowed Maddie to be both a cheerleader AND someone who liked reading and comics. AND that it did not fall back on that stupid cheerleaders and football players are evil and mean and awful people stereotype. Huzzah for breaking the mold!
Now, if you are a total nerd or know people with nerd-like tendencies Leah Rae Miller’s voice might cause you to flail with excitement when you experience the recognition of your kind. First off, there is LARPing in this book. You guys, LARP means live action role play and it is seriously the nerdiest thing ever. LOL when I was in college one of my roommates and his girlfriend at the time were into that and LOL I just remember they had this giant staff made out of cardboard. I don’t even know, you guys. Then again, I can’t judge too hard because I think Tony used to LARP when he was a kid. Soooo yeah. BUT that’s okay this is a judgment free zone and if you are into that kind of thing, you’ll probably like this book as it celebrates those interests. ALSO, another cool thing about it is that it does not condemn people who like video games and comic books, so big ups to that. I thought Miller did a fine job illustrating hobbies that I am not intimately familiar with.
The romance in The Summer I Became A Nerd is alright but leaves me conflicted. You see, when Maddie gets her crush on Logan, she’s already dating someone else. To me it is not okay to send off flirt vibes and I AM INTERESTED vibes when you are in a relationship with someone else. The right thing to do is dump the person who is wrong for you, even though it’s not an easy experience and then go for it with the other person. This aside, I liked Logan. He is a genuinely nice guy who does not give a fig what anyone else thinks. He’s one of the coolest characters in the book because he does seem wise beyond his years. However, he does have his jerk moments. Alas, he’s a normal teenage boy and those happen. ALSO. There’s some kissing in this book FYI but nothing that goes beyond that.
If y’all are down for a fun, quick read with a cute romance and a just be yourself moral, pick up a copy of The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leigh Rae Miller.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller:
Pinkindle – “could not have come at a better time for me”
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – “I’d give this to teens (and middle-schoolers) in a heartbeat”
Quinn’s Book Nook – “I recommend borrowing it from the library”