I originally read Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty awhile back and promptly forgot most of it. I vaguely remembered not liking it much and just figured that was that. But then I kept seeing rave reviews of the series from people that I trust so I thought I’d better try again. And boy am I glad I did! How could I have not thought the book was hilarious? How could I have written Jessica Darling off as forgettable?
Jessica’s sophomore year has a dark cloud hanging over it – the fact that her best friend, Hope, has moved away. She doesn’t really like anyone else, so she feels pretty alone. She takes all this out on her journal – she is completely unafraid of telling it like it is. From the shallow girls she eats lunch with so she won’t be a social pariah to the incredible douchebag jock Scott that inexplicably has a thing for her – no one is safe from her snarky commentary. She is absolutely dry, ironic and hilarious. My guess is that if Jessica Darling and Angela Chase (from My So-Called Life) were ever to meet, the world would explode from the teenage angst.
I also love her parents’ role in the story, especially since we see them through Jessica’s eyes. (Lord knows they aren’t safe from her snide comments either.) They definitely try to take an active role in her life, but they aren’t goody-goody-fake-model-parent characters either. This is a wonderful, believable balance rarely achieved anywhere else in YA lit.
Marcus Flutie. The druggie? The genius? The enigma. First of all: before you read this book, get a nice picture in your head of a high school slacker-genius. Stick with that. Because the tragic description we are given (including DREADS of all things) is pretty lackluster. Once you get past that, there is a lot of Marcus to discover – and a lot of Marcus that doesn’t quite add-up. Trying to figure him out is basically a full-time job for Jessica (one she is mostly in complete denial about undertaking).
So, basically if you’re a YA contemporary fan this is one of those books you can’t pass up on. Jessica Darling is a character you need to meet for yourself – and Lord knows, so is Marcus Flutie. It by no means has some of the depth of my favorite contemp reads, but the humor and the characters make it pretty unforgettable nonetheless! So, if you haven’t read it yet: what are you waiting for?