Monday, February 7, 2011

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Book Jacket

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts.  This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High.  Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can't seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends.  To top it off, Jessica's parents won't get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany's pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultous world of today's fast-moving and sophisticated teens.  Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess's life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep programs and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie.  But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some:  Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis?  Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life?  Will Hope ever come back to Pineville?  Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years.


I reviewed Megan McCafferty's first book here, and I am so happy to say that its follow-up, Second Helpings, is even better!  Jessica is consistently likeable in her senior year, mainly because she's gotten out of her depression slump and is starting to enjoy life and allow friendships beyond her BFF Hope.

I was amazed at how spot on McCafferty's story about senior year of high school was.  The overwhelming pervasiveness of looming college applications, trying to figure out whether to continue extra-curricular activities even though you no longer have interest in them, enjoying yet mocking the strange tendency for enemies to suddenly become nostalgic best friends once May rolls around.  And of course, the boys.  Every romantic relationship in Jessica's life felt completely plausible.  First crushes die hard, even when you find out the boy is gay.  Sadly, the good guy who is perfect on paper just doesn't always equal love, no matter how hard you try.  And the boy who breaks your heart is impossible to forget, even when you desperately want to.

I loved Jessica in this book.  Her wit and sarcasm are nicer this time around, and I was thrilled that she was starting to see and accept the friendships around her.  That's probably the highest praise I can give a book, that I cared so deeply for the main character that I rejoiced at her successes and mourned her losses.

Five out of five day-of-the-week tshirts.

Release Date:  April 2003
Reading Level:  Grade 10+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  YPL MCC

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