The Summer I Became A Nerd

14744489Author: Leah Rae Miller
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): YA, Romance, Coming-of-Age, Nerd Culture

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Spoilers:  Moderate
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I absolutely adored this book. I know, I know. Trust me, I did not expect to like this book. When I first requested a review copy online I figured I would be writing a very scathing book about stereotypes and turning into a nerd for a boy or something along those lines. That’s just generally the way nerds and geeks seem to get marginailzied in media these days, you know? We’re trendy. We’re a fad. I figured this was going to just be some campy YA romance in that same vein.

I am so glad to say that I was completely and totally wrong about that.

Yes, there is romance. And, yes, maybe Maddie Summers ultimately embraces her inner geek due in part because of a boy. That’s just not the only reason. See, I loved Maddie. I thought she was great and I thought of all the girls in all the YA books I’ve ever read she was one of the most relateable characters I’ve come across. She actually reminded me a lot of my little sister, Bailey, as I read this book and maybe that’s one of the reasons I liked it so much.

See, Maddie Summers is one of us. You just wouldn’t know that about her. Growing up in a small town, Maddie knows what it feels like to stick out and she knows what it’s like to be made fun of for liking things other people think are lame. After one ill-fated attempt to dress up as her favorite comic book character at a school costume contest when she was little she swore that she would never be made fun of again. To her credit that didn’t mean she gave up comic books and her nerdier pursuits. It just meant that she had to be a ‘closet nerd.’ She pushed that part of her to the side and instead focused on making friends, fitting in, joining the cheerleading team, dating a football player… pretty much all the things she needed to do to fit in, have friends, and just be a normal teenager. Meanwhile at home she squees over fanboards and orders all of her comics and things online – hoarding away her nerdier experiences and relishing them no matter how short they may be in the end.

I know there are some people who probably would rebuke Maddie for not letting her nerd flag fly. But I grew up in small towns. I know what it’s like to be that person whose always on the outside because you don’t fit in. I mean, I had great friends and we had an awesome time together being outcasts and playing video games and trying to play Dungeons and Dragons in Trevor’s basement with a starter kit that wasn’t really all that easy to set up. My friends weren’t her perky, popular country girl friends. No, mine were more like Logan – the cute boy Maddie sort of knows from school and whose parents own the local comic book store.

Watching those two come together felt a lot like my own decent into nerd-dome as I grew up and met nerdier and nerdier friends. Maddie not only gets to go to the comic book store and hide out in the back with Logan where they can talk and she can discover all new comics. Logan introduces her to LARP and comic conventions and all the different kinds of fun you can have with other nerds if you just know where to find them and how to meet up with those other people.

I liked seeing Maddie discover all that. I liked seeing it from the perspective of someone who loves comics and nerdy things but never would have had the chance to learn about any of that without Logan. I also loved that she put so much of an emphasis on hiding who she was when in the end… it didn’t really matter that much at all. It never really does. Kids just don’t get that and most of them never have the opportunity to realize that. Watching Maddie and Logan work their way through all these issues and her insecurities was something I really found to be quite touching and I loved the way the author handled it.

I mean, this isn’t the perfect book. It’s cheesy at times as all YA romances are. But I enjoyed it. I read it in class on my iPad when I didn’t know what was going on. (Which, to be fair, was pretty much every single day in my business law course.) It was cute and it made me happy when I read it so all in all that earns it the four star rating I gave it.

Final Thoughts: 
The Summer I Became a Nerd is a cute, fun read for anyone looking for a sappy YA romance with a bit of nerdy flair. Honestly, it’s probably a little ridiculous how much I enjoyed this book but I do. I stand by it. I think you’ll enjoy it too and, hey, if you’ve got a nerd-bashing pre-teen in your family maybe give this book to them and see what they think. Maybe they’ll be a tad bit more understanding.

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