MacKenzie is a self-professed nerd who seems just fine to exist under the radar. Until she performs CPR on a fellow student (and crush) and the video goes viral (turns out he didn't actually need CPR and she may have taken her skills a little too far--like a YA version of Sandra Bullocks pen tracheotomy in The Heat). A boy band even records a song based on the clip, and suddenly, MacKenzie has a fanbase.
This is the story of nerd girl-turned-diva, ugly duckling turned mature young woman, with a lot of well, awkwardness, and social hierarchy, and boy bands. It's a lot of fun and definitely one I could see working well for younger teens. Though there are some more mature references within the book, MacKenzie is a mostly innocent teen navigating popularity, fame, and friendship.
Published: March 2013
This book reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss if written by Sarah Dessen and set in England instead of France. If that sounds appealing to you, you will probably like this book.
Like in Awkward, Julia is a rule-following, good grades-achieving student whose world is flipped through a series of new experiences. On a class trip to England, she's paired with Jason who is of course, totally not a rule-following, good grades-achiever. In fact, he names her Book Licker (I can't even remember why, but I think it was a play on her last name. Regardless, funny). Jason is kind of a mess throughout the book, so the progression of his character is interesting to watch, especially from a romantic angle.
This is the type of book that made me wish I'd gone on a class trip to England, and also simultaneously glad I waited until I was an adult to visit. I mean, so many shenanigans and drama on class trips. This book kind of summarizes what that would be like, while also paired with a hyper class clown as a permanent buddy. Julia finds herself constantly challenging her preconceived notions of order and rules; you see her stumble through her first non-chaperoned party, getting lost, losing her pocket Shakespeare, and a strange arrangement where Jason pretends to teach her how to flirt and find the right guy while she helps him with homework.