July 11, 2012 by Heidi
Title: Second Helpings [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Megan McCafferty [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Second in the Jessica Darling series.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: December 18th, 2007 by Broadway (Originally published in 2003).
Format: Kindle edition; 370 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: This review and Second Helpings contains all sorts of spoilers for Sloppy Firsts, so go read that first!
If I’m ever found dead and all signs point to the cause being extreme anxiety, and everyone keeps saying “I don’t know what happened, she was always so laid back”, you insist on searching all end tables and my Kindle to find out what I was reading when I keeled over. Chances are, it was a Jessica Darling book.
Second Helpings may not have left me on the verge of a panic attack in its ending like Sloppy Firsts managed too, but there was enough angst leading up to one fantastic ending to leave me huddled in the corner eating my hair and hoping that I will one day again have a decent night’s sleep where I don’t wake up in a cold sweat of panic over the lives of Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie. Seriously, if we still talked about women having ‘weak constitutions’, anyone seeing me near this book would use the phrase to describe me, and while I did enjoy Second Helpings, I am utterly terrified to continue on with the series.
When I picked up Second Helpings, I kind of assumed that it would pick up right where Sloppy Firsts let off, but it doesn’t. Second Helpings starts at the beginning of the summer, where our girl Jessica is headed to an artistic camp to work on writing. There, while on a field trip, she has a run in with the infamous Paul Parlapiano (yes, the Paul Palapiano of epic crush/definitely gay/she puked on his shoes renown) who drags her to the Columbia campus, and gets Jessica’s mind brewing about a whole new college experience. Of course, her parents will never approve, so she then has to spend the school year stressing about Columbia, friends, boyfriends, and of course HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. Though let’s be honest here, a year stressing about Lord Voldemort would probably be less angst ridden and nerve wracking than a year stressing about Marcus Flutie. Marcus, as always, playing mind games (or is he?). Marcus, who Jessica thought she had something more than friendship with until that fateful night when she told him to eff off, and he listened. Marcus, who is either an evil genius, or the heartthrob of high school history.
So did anyone else, upon starting this book, FLIP OUT when they read that Jessica DESTROYED HER JOURNALS?! (And yes, welcome to my review of Second Helpings, I am going to CAPSLOCK ALL OVER IT.) I mean I just about had to drop the book and find a paper bag to breathe into thinking about all of those EPIC MOMENTS that were lost. Then I calmly reminded myself that Sloppy Firsts is a BOOK and not a REAL LIVE JOURNAL and I can still obtain these thoughts and memories without having to slap Jessica into recounting them all again on paper.
I adored watching Jessica’s resolve crumble throughout Second Helpings, even as she grew into a somewhat more mature, thoughtful, calm (*snort* right) and confident individual. At the beginning, she’s totally resolved not to even mention Marcus by name. Heck, she’s resolved not to write any more angsty journal entries period. We can all guess about how long that lasts. She does, for those of you who were annoyed at her lack of letting go of Hope in Sloppy Firsts, move on a bit. She doesn’t lose Hope’s friendship, but she realizes that there are other friendships out there to be had. Not every friend is going to be something akin to a soul mate, but that doesn’t make them worthless.
I’ll be honest, I found Jessica to be trying my nerves quite a bit more in this installment. I got so sick of hearing her obsessing over sex. I guess some teens probably do obsess over sex, but I certainly wasn’t one of them. In Jessica’s world, she assumed everyone other than herself had had sex. When I was a teen, I kind of assumed no one had. Neither of us were correct, but I did get awfully sick of hearing her obsess about losing her virginity. I kind of feel like if you care enough to wait for someone you really care about, you should care enough not to freak out about being a virgin.
I also wanted to slap both Jessica and Marcus for their utter stupidity. Seriously, how many AWESOME things in this life are wasted by stubbornness? Being incredibly pig headed myself, I can hardly say this is unheard of, but seriously kids. I DON’T LIKE WHITE KNUCKLING BOOKS. I got about four hours of sleep the day I tried to read this, because of course I started it at 9:00 pm and then couldn’t sleep because of the ANXIETY. So, important note to self: Plan ahead. Do not start a Jessica Darling novel unless you have ample time to finish it in a single sitting.
I did feel that Marcus veered over into the cheesy side of things for me in this one, but I’m cool with that, as I’m not sure anything else would have worked. I love that Marcus and Jessica really get one another in a way that no one else can, even if they often don’t realize or appreciate it. I don’t want to talk much more of the plot or my AMPLE FEELINGS as I’ve rambled plenty, and want to steer clear of spoiler territory, but really. Jessica Darling easily holds a place as one of my all time favorite contemporaries, and I couldn’t recommend it more.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:
Yes, yes, I will eventually read the rest of this series. I loved the way Second Helpings ended, but I’ve also heard multiple people say that Perfect Fifths is one of their favorite series endings of all time. I need a bit of a break though lest my ulcers start bleeding again. Maybe I’ll read Bumped and Thumped in the meantime?
If you read Sloppy Firsts and didn’t feel the immediate imperative to read this book, I quite frankly don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Real life repercussions of reading this book:
I think we’ve covered that.
Get a second opinion:
A Reader’s Pensieve
Into the Hall of Books
The Perpetual Page Turner
I’ve also reviewed:
Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1)