Title: Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1)
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Pages: 280 paperback
My Rating: 5/5 stars
“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”
When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?
A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.
I am pretty sure every blogger knows how awesome Ginger at GReads! is but I would like to say it just one more time…She. Is. Awesome. Any person who can continuously recommend one great book after another, is a total rock star in my eyes. Ginger first mentioned this book to me through either Twitter or by leaving a comment on my blog (I forgot which one!) simply stating “Have you checked out my review for the Jessica Darling series yet?” I quickly decided that I MUST check out her reviews and see what these books are all about. I was instantly in love. I loved the characters, the humor, the romance, the Marcus (yes, the Marcus!) and this was before I even set eyes on the actual book! I’ve seen bloggers gush about books before but never quite like that. Then the 10 year anniversary for this book came out and I saw nothing but Megan McCafferty this and Jessica Darling that so finding this book at Border’s closing sale was like fate. I stayed up well until the wee hours of the morning to read it and then quickly ordered the rest of the series.
This girl, Jessica Darling, is every teenager. She has a personality that everyone can relate to, and I do mean everyone. A mom who doesn’t understand her, we’ve all had times where we think “Oh my god. Could my parents be anymore lame? They don’t understand me at all.” A dad who pushes our limits because he thinks that’s the only connection we have (especially when it comes to running, my dad was certainly at every track and cross country meet pushing me to run harder and harder). A best friend who understands her more than anything, well we all have at least one of those (you have heard me mention my best friend Kati, right? Oh, you haven’t? Well, let me explain, she is made of awesomesauce.). Jessica may be way smarter than the average girl, or have a best friend that lives thousands of miles away, but the important thing is that Megan McCafferty created a character we could all understand, sympathize with, and enjoy like no other.
Jessica’s not-so-darling personality kept me laughing throughout the whole entire book! Since this book is written in journal entry form, she holds nothing back and that is exactly why I adore her to pieces. From the moments she was sad and depressed about Hope being gone (I totally don’t blame her. I would be just as depressed if my best friend moved away!), to the endless complaining that comes after hanging out with the Clueless Crew all day (a bunch of snobs who think they are the center of the universe, no thank you!) Jessica kept her cynicism live and well. Her smirks, her sarcastic comments that are lost on nearly everyone, and the way she looks at her glass half empty in only a way a teenage girl going through a tough time can pull off, made this book so believably funny. She may not sound like the most happy-go-lucky person out there but I know I certainly had my “I hate the world and everyone on it” days as a 16-year-old. Jessica’s spunk kept me on my toes as a reader. Just when I thought I had her all figured she would go for a midnight run or start talking about her missing period. Gosh, there is just so much to love about her!
Jessica is not always hating on the Clueless Crew or coming up with one-liners that half of the school population doesn’t understand, she also has some sweet, touching, or even uncomfortable moments that made her all the more real. The pain she felt after Hope moved away was evident. Instead of Megan having a best friend move away and just forget about her for the rest of the book, she brought her up quite frequently, enough to the point that I felt like I knew Hope almost as much as all the other characters. Also, when Jessica’s older sister begins to isolate the family, Jessica steps in (a bit unwillingly) to help cheer up her mom. I thought it was super important that Megan included this. Jessica and her mom may have not seen eye to eye but she still made an attempt to show appreciation towards her mom.
Alright, I have made it far enough in the review to where I can finally start gushing. The final big paragraph can be dedicated to the one and only Marcus Flutie. Marcus, my darling Marcus. THANK GOD you came along to the world of literature because I was beginning to think I was the only teenage girl out there who liked a guy with red hair (have you seen me mention a certain boy named Travis from We The Kings…uh yeah. I love him!) Anyways, there is just something about his character that was almost unimportant at the beginning but somehow became such a huge piece to the second half of the book. Marcus is your picture perfect bad boy. Long red dreads, a different girl every week, and a bad streak with the law; what girl wouldn’t be all over that? Apparently, Jessica Darling. She tries so hard to keep her distance from Marcus but he sees right through the façade she creates and Marcus likes nothing more than to push her buttons. The more and more Marcus tries to get Jessica to see how fake she is being, the more she actually starts realizing it for herself. I don’t mean to be a major spoiler here but there was totally a cat-fight scene in the book and Jessica actually stood up for herself (thanks to Marcus) and I almost started clapping & cheering after reading it. He was able to help her grow and speak up for herself so I instantly love him for it.
Now on to the less serious reasons I love Marcus Flutie:
1) The boy band t-shirts. “Backstreet’s back, ALRIGHT!”
2) The random topics in class. “Did you know that the average American spends six months of his or her life waiting for red lights to turn green?” Who knew Marcus was a fountain of knowledge
3) Those late night phone calls. Oh gosh, it takes me back to the good old days of staying up until 2 a.m. talking quietly on the phone with a guy so my parents wouldn’t get mad.
4) His unnerving way of telling Jessica exactly how it is. He also refrains from holding anything back so it’s hilarious to see these two go back and forth.
5) He bit her lip. No he didn’t kiss her, he bit her!
6) He writes poetry. It may be dirty poetry but it is still written by him and made me swoon a bit more!
7) He can make my girl Jessica say Sha-ZAM, enough said!!!
The list of reasons why Jessica, Marcus and this book as a whole, rocked my socks off, could go on and on for days. I could gush about the characters day and night but instead will leave you with these two videos that were created in honor of Sloppy Firsts 10th birthday!
This first one was made by Anna at Anna Reads! How could you not think that is the most adorable thing ever?
This one is made by Geisha P. Pants. When I first watched it I thought “what the heck is this?” After reading the book I think it is the most epic video ever made!