I’m a self-professed nerd. It wasn’t something I grew up thinking, much less embracing. But at 32, I’m finally able admit it. I’m a nerd. And a fangirl. I am a Potterhead, a Browncoat, a Pieholer, a Whovian, an Initiate, a Marshmallow, and all sorts of other things I didn’t know I could be in high school, despite not being one of the popular girls.
And that’s what I love about Cassie Mae’s funny, sweet, and totally nerdy YA romance “How to Date a Nerd”. It’s like nerd-girl crack. It’s got all the standard high school insecurities, sure. But at its core, this is a story about a girl who is terrified to admit what she likes, admit who she likes because she doesn’t want to get made fun of. My heart ached for Zoe because what she likes is all kinds of awesome and she felt like she couldn’t be herself and still be considered cool. And Zak. Oh, Zak. He’s the best kind of nerd-boy. With the swoony smile and hair, the I-don’t-give-a-crap-if-you-think-I’m-a-nerd-because-I-totally-own-it attitude, and the undying attraction for the closet-nerd-girl, who wouldn’t fall for him?
The journey these two take trying to find their way back to each other is at times heartbreaking and tender and frustrating and incredibly sexy. And Zoe’s realization that Zak has zero interest in Popular-Zoe—who parades around in her underwear desperate to get his attention—but that Geek-Zoe—who can kick his ass at video games and spout off facts about Star Wars and Potter, and speak fluent Elvish—gets him seriously hot and bothered, made me want to yell at her, “You could’ve had this wonderful boy the whole time if you’d just been nerd enough to wear a ‘Weasley Is Our King’ shirt to school!” (‘Cause yeah, I totally have one of those shirts and I wear it with pride.)
But even if you’re not a total nerd, the message of the book is the same: Be happy with who you are. Own it. And never let anyone make you feel like you aren’t good enough because there is always someone who will love you for you, no questions asked.