TITLE: Sloppy Firsts
SERIES: Jessica Darling #1
AUTHOR: Megan McCafferty
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1,2001
PUBLISHER: Three Rivers Press, member of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc
PAGES: 280 pages
RATING: 5 stars
These days, I generally don’t reread many things. I feel like there are too many new novels that I want to read coming out and how can I justify reading something again when I have stacks of books waiting to be read as well as eARCs from netgalley that I myself requested to read and review? The answer is I really don’t know and yet some how I found myself unable to stop the urge to reread this novel. I should be reading Embrace by Jessica Shirvington that I borrowed from a friend or The Demon Catchers Of Milan by Kat Beyer from netgalley, both of which are very good and interesting and yet I can’t concentrate. All I could think about was Jessica and Marcus.
I know part of the blame is on my 80’s movie marathon this weekend. I had never seen all those John Hughes or Molly Ringwald or Brat Pack films I’ve heard/seen/read references to in numerous entertainment outlets and I finally decided I’d had enough of being out of the loop. I know, I know, I fail. A close friend of mine and I rented the most popular ones (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Dead Poets Society) and settled in for a night of big hair and bad graphics. But I loved them, well most of them. Shockingly I didn’t really like Pretty In Pink, which I have been told numerous times that I would adore. Nope, I liked Ducky and she doesn’t end up with Ducky, not to mention she is a bitch for the majority of the movie. Anyway, as soon as I finished them, all I have been able to think about is Jessica Darling and her love of 80’s films and the constant references and I wanted to reread this series so I could finally understand. But I knew I had too much to read so I told myself that I couldn’t. To try to appease myself, I rewatched Easy A because now I finally understand the majority of that quote about life being like an 80’s movie (and a few others). Even after that, I still couldn’t stop myself from searching for a copy of this to read since my little sister has mine. I finally caved and started reading and damn am I glad I did.
There aren’t many things that I love enough to read numerous times. I’ve probably read this novel ten or so times and it seems like I see something new every time I pick it up. At some point in 8th grade, a close friend of mine shoved this into my hands and said that I just had to read it. And since my high school career hadn’t even began yet, I was enraptured at this portrait of high school that was different than any I had ever read. It gave me an honest idea of what to expect in high school so thanks Megan for preparing me for that. I reread it several times while in high school to see how it measured up and I’ve got to say that it was pretty accurate. The irony is that for an accurate depiction of high school to be published, it had to be published as an adult novel because it was too vulgar for YA.
Okay, okay, enough gushing. This novel follows Jessica Darling throughout the second half of her sophomore year and the first half of her junior year of high school. She’s almost sixteen and the world is ending. Her best friend is moving away and since her other quote friends unquote are brainless idiots who have just happened to be grouped with her for a few years, she will truly be alone. No one gets her except Hope and now their relationship is reduced to monthly letters, weekly phone calls, and daily emails. Which anyone can tell you isn’t the same as face time. This takes place in 1999, before skype and video chatting and all that so she really doesn’t even get to SEE Hope. I can understand how that would be difficult. I have a hard time dealing with my friends being far away and I’m 23, so at 16 it’s like the world is ending. She continues to go to school and track practice and go through the motions, all the while being mopey and whiny just trying to keep it together. Enter Marcus Flutie. He’s the resident druggie/rebel/troublemaker at her school and he has singled her out to torment for whatever demented reason floated through his skull. I was a little shocked when I read this because the sexy smart guy I know and love in this series is not how he starts out. It was too easy to forget that in the beginning, he was just a smartass who was messing with Jessica for the hell of it. My baby sister is trying to read this book and is having trouble because she doesn’t like Marcus, which is a concept my brain just refuses to understand but now I do. What you have to understand about me is that Marcus Flutie is one of my all time favorite literary male heroes. He reminds me a great deal of Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You (the film, not that horrid ABC Family tv show)…in fact the whole thing reminds me of 10 Things,
but that is besides the point. It really took me by surprise that for the majority of this novel, you really don’t like Marcus. He’s just this weird character that Jess can’t understand or figure out. Then she does something stupid (not to mention illegal) to help him and it just makes things worse.
The majority of this novel is just about Jess finding her self and trying to figure out the Marcus situation, which is constantly changing. And then to top off everything else, this novel ends really badly. Things with Mr Flutie don’t end well and we don’t know how Hope is going to take all the Marcus info since Jess has been withholding it for fear of disapproval. It’s one of those annoying endings where the story just stops instead of ending.
Why, you ask do I love it when I hate bad endings? Because book 2 makes up for the bad ending. Book 2 probably has my all time favorite ending to a book. It’s just so perfect. In fact, as much as I loved seeing more of these characters in the rest of the series, I kind of wish it would have stopped there because there was no way to top that. I also just loved Jess’s character. I loved the fact that it’s a very realistic portrayal of high school. There is cursing and they talk about sex without shying away or censoring it like most authors do to keep their story on a PG-13 level. Jess is hyper-observant and brutally honest. This book reminds me why I like contemporary books in a world where paranormal is king. Jess felt very real to me, like a flesh and blood person. I think part of me really does think that she exists somewhere in New Jersey, living happily ever after with Marcus and Hope.
The bottom line is that this novel is amazing. I recommend it to every person who likes to read.