Review: Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty


July 11, 2012 by Heidi

Second Helpings by Megan McCaffertyTitle: 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?

Recommended for:
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)


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  1. Sarah says:

    “So did anyone else, upon starting this book, FLIP OUT when they read that Jessica DESTROYED HER JOURNALS?!”

    Yes, yes, yes. I completely freaked out. That series… it killed me. (And Perfect Fifths is one of the best series endings I’ve read.)

    • Heidi says:

      Hahaha, I’m glad I’m not alone. I’ve heard SO many people say that about Perfect Fifths! I’m for sure going to read the rest of the series just to get to that ending, though like I said, my ulcers need a break. 😛

  2. Anna says:

    I read Sloppy Firsts about a year ago and couldn’t decide whether I loved or loathed Jessica. I guess I’m going to have brace myself for Second Helpings:)
    You should give Bumped a go. It’s funny/scary/slightly ridiculous, if that’s any help!

    • Heidi says:

      Haha, that IS a help, actually! I hadn’t wanted to read Bumped until I enjoyed this series so much, but funny/scary/slightly ridiculous sounds right up my ally! Good luck with Second Helpings…brace yourself indeed.

  3. Everything you said = YES! We are very much on the same page.

    I’m gonna hang out with you for a while in the bliss of Second Helpings before I mess it all up by tearing up my nerves with the third book. Because Jessica does that to me too! I can see this pattern. I know, I know, I know that the ending is supposed to pay off – but I’m comfortable with the ending of this one for a good while. That girl really messed with me.

    Seriously, I laughed out loud so hard during this whole thing. It’s like I re-lived the book through this blog post. SO MUCH LOVE to you right now. I’m throwing it to you, softball-player style.

    • Heidi says:

      Yay!! I still can’t catch. D:

      So glad you’re willing to bask with me in Second Helpings though, I know I do want to read the others eventually but I seriously can’t take that crap right now, it’s too stressful!

  4. I didn’t realize this was a positive review until the very end, LOL. This is the rantiest 4-star review I’ve ever read. WELL DONE. I’m not sure I’d survive these books.

    • Heidi says:

      Hahahahaha, it never even occurred to me that my review is mostly COMPLAINING about this book even though I really liked it, but you’re so right, it is. I’m not sure you would either, they’re so good, but so incredibly stressful.

  5. I am TOTALLY with Asheley: YESSSSS to everything you said above. Yes to destroying the journals (What, the what???) and Yes to the ridiculous stubborn-ness exhibited by both Jessica and Marcus. And Yes to the total Marcus Flutie/ Jessica Darling ANXIETY that just sits a in your gut and festers until you are able to pick that book up and finish it, and Yes, to Marcus being slightly cheesy, but gosh, I STILL love him so, and…just… YES to ALL of it! I am right there with you. Right.There.

    Gah, I love this series:)

    So, Charmed Thirds is probably going to irk you even more than the first two ( it did me) but PROMISE you won’t give up. And then let me know when you and Asheley are ready to start Fourth Comings because it is sitting on my night stand CALLING to me. Loudly. I can’t wait to get to Perfect Fifths because everyone RAVES that it is the best of the bunch.

    LOVE this review (obviously:)

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks so much, Heather!! I’m so happy to have you and Asheley here with me, loving Marcus Flutie but completely anxiety ridden over the whole nonsense. I’ve heard that Charmed Thirds is probably the hardest one to get through, but I do swear I will get through this entire series!

  6. Miss Anderson says:

    I’m reading this one RIGHT NOW, and I totally love this review. I think my frustration with Jessica is great, though, because she’s realistic. I do get frustrated with people, and she’s not perfect. I’m dying to find out what this great ending in Perfect Fifths is all about, so I need to readreadread and see how Jessica grows as a person.

    And the journal destroying? OMG. I also about died. No matter how many times I’ve considered it, I know that I’ll never actually do it.

    • Heidi says:

      I agree! I LOVE Jessica, even though she makes me mad a lot of the time, because like you say, she’s real. VERY real, which is probably why these books illicit so much emotion from me. And I too am just dying to find out what everyone is talking about with Perfect Fifths!

  7. Haha, I read Sloppy Firsts and didn’t love, and I wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with me. I’m glad to hear that Jessica evolves on the friend issue, since that was the breaking point for me in the first book, I think. I may be picking this one up after all.

    • Heidi says:

      Melanie, I know you’re not alone in your not-love of Sloppy Firsts. I think the friend issue is the biggest complaint I’ve seen. It didn’t really bother me, but I can totally see people’s annoyance at her being so hung up on Hope that she misses everything else going on. It’s not nearly so much like that in Second Helpings, she develops better relationships with a few different people, and while she does spend a lot of it obsessing about Marcus, I feel like there was more to the story here than just him and Hope.

      • melaniesmusingsnet says:

        It wasn’t so much her hang-up on Hope as her treatment of her other friends that bothered me. She obsesses about Marcus a bunch? That sounds like fun! I liked him and his bizarre sense of humor a lot.

        • Heidi says:

          Yeah, she gets a lot better about her friends in Second Helpings. In that, she doesn’t pretend to be friends with people she really can’t stand anymore, and makes some real friendships with other people.

  8. […] The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson Storybound by Marissa […]

  9. Jasmine Rose says:

    I had to kind of skim over your review since I haven’t read Second Helpings yet and I plan on doing it to, but I’m right there with you on the sex thing. I never quite understand when I read a book and the main (female) character is all sex-obsessed. I’m like “when I was that age I preferred to walk around thinking the world was made of white roses and everyone was as pure as the snow.” Obviously, that’s a naive thought, but it wasn’t because I thought sex was disgusting, I just had WAY more things on my mind. Then again, I was never really boy crazy in any way. I mean, when I had my first kiss I was like “wooooo! Let’s do that some more.” so don’t go thinking I didn’t like guys at all, they just weren’t all I thought about ;]
    Okay, I think this comment got weird and it’s time to wrap things up. Your review was awesome, even if I did only skim it. Your opening paragraph was hilarious!

    • Heidi says:

      Hahaha, I love you, Jasmine.

      THIS IS ABOUT TO GET WEIRD. And yeah, I was the same way as a teen. I mean, yeah, I thought about boys, but I had a lot of other things to think about too, so I never really got that part of Jessica. So excited to hear what you think when you read it!

  10. April Books & Wine says:

    Hahaha if you white knuckle this, just wait for the third and the fourth. Honestly, I did not like those two, but Perfect Fifths was fantastic!

    And sigh, I hate when characters are soooo stubborn that they do what I see as the WRONG thing.

    • Heidi says:

      Oh god, that’s why I have to take a break before the 3rd and 4th, I just can’t handle a panic attack right now. 😛

      I’m going into those with much lower expectations, but I want to get to Perfect Fifths so badly, I know I’ll read them!

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.