I had no idea that a book in which LARPing receives so much page time could be so endearing and fun.
Leah Rae Miller's debut novel, The Summer I Became a Nerd is lighter fair done right. While it's not breaking any ground, there's a lot of merit in reading a breezy book that's so engaging. I often find myself disinterested or just plain bored with this type of novel, particularly in YA, but this hits a lot of sweet spots with fun humor, a believable teen voice and a warm story about the importants of being true to oneself.
Following a traumatic experience as a middle schooler, Maddie has hidden her love of comic books, science fiction and all things "nerdy" from her friends in pursuit of popularity and fitting in. She's a cheerleader, she dates the quarterback, she listens to the "right" music that her popular group of friends listens to.
This carefully-constructed facade starts to crumble when the final issue of her favorite comic book is on backorder and she forces herself to go to the local comic book store (in "disguise," naturally) in search of the book.
There’s only one place in town that would have a copy. Is the risk of being seen and losing my place atop Natchitoches Central’s elite worth it? No. Absolutely not. It’s been a long, hard climb to the top of the popularity ladder. It took a lot of deceit and subterfuge to get people to forget The Costume Incident.
It turns out the comic book store is owned by the family of a nerdy boy from Maddie's school, Logan, who isn't fooled by her disguise or her feigned coolness. Quickly, the two begin spending time together, as Logan introduces Maddie to his world full of LARPing, video games and comic book conventions.