Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
The Skinny: Our favorite angsty teenager is back for Senior Year with a whole new set of problems. Jessica Darling’s senior year is shaping up to be just as problematic as ever. Her mom still doesn’t get her, her dad refuses to talk to her after quitting the track team, and her older sister is pregnant. She can’t make up her mind about college, despite her near perfect process of elimination. The Clueless Crew still continue to annoy the heck out of her. And Marcus Flutie is still a mystery to her. Thank goodness for a brand new diary!
BFF?: Duh, of course! Jessica is just as fun as she was in Sloppy Firsts, only now she’s grown up some. I would love to spend my senior year with her, talking about our college plans, pulling rank over freshmen, complaining about senioritis, chucking our graduation caps in the air and being glad we’re getting the hell outta Dodge (i.e. our hometown). It would be a senior year to remember!
Readability: True to form, McCafferty dazzles us again with her grasp on Jessica’s voice. It’s believable and realistic, full of emotion but without going over the top.
Crush Level: 6
Three words: You. Yes You. No spoilers, of course, but had I been Jessica and seen these words I would have melted into my shoes. Shoot, I DID melt into my shoes. As I mentioned in my review of Sloppy Firsts I wasn’t really impressed with Marcus Flutie at first. I’m still a little apprehensive of him, but the tiny romantic comedy loving part of me (which I believe might be in my right pinkie toe) is really pulling for him to wow me. Those three words nearly did.
Jessica goes to summer camp, but not just any summer camp. She goes to a WRITING summer camp. Maybe in high school I would have thought this to be complete dorksville, but now, as a grown up, I would love to go to writing summer camp. Actually, I’d like to go to any summer camp that gets me away from being a grown up.
It’s rare that books (in my reading experience) deal with national tragedies as part of the plot. Jessica’s dealing with 9/11 isn’t sensitive or PC; it’s pretty honest. I really like how it doesn’t immediately hit her or affect her. Like any real tragedy it slowly creeps on her before she realize the true effect the aftermath has, not only on her but her world.
For anyone who has been, is going, or will go to college, we can relate to Jessica’s dilemma when it comes to picking a college. Just when you think you have it figured out, another option comes knocking. Jessica’s flip flopping and process of elimination is, as always, absolutely hilarious.
You’ve gotta hand it to Marcus. He is pretty sneaky, using another man to get to Jessica. But like her, it’s a total surprise. I would fall head over heels for someone who did that. Orr… maybe not. Why couldn’t he just talk to me face to face?
Commencement Speech: The follow up to Sloppy Firsts was just as charming and wonderful as can be. Jessica’s worries and angst over every day things really makes you feel like a teenager again. But not in a good way. More like “Phew! Thank goodness I don’t have to go through THAT again!” McCafferty’s writing is spot-on and her development of Jessica is brilliant. She tackles tough issues with hilarity and honesty, not skirting around the issues or details that teenagers deal with day in and day out. What I love best about this book (and the series so far) is that the characters are real. They aren’t the mysterious, misunderstood and beautiful boy or girl as so many YA books seem to center around. The characters are people you went to (or go to) high school with; Jessica could easily be you, Marcus easily the boy you had a crush on, Scotty the jerk football player. They are all real, with real personalities and real interactions. Real, real, real.
Superlatives: Most Likely to Make you Glad You’re a Grown Up