By Megan McCafferty
My Rating: 3.5 / 5
Continuing with my foray into contemporary YA reads, this is a book that’s been around for a while, and is the first in the Jessica Darling series, which I’ve heard a lot about. Here is the summary:
“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.
I think I had really high hopes for this book, perhaps because I was so pleased with Anna and the French Kiss, which is another contemporary YA I’d heard a lot about and finally read (and which I loved). I didn’t dislike this book, but I didn’t love it either. It was a pleasant read, but also funny and frustrating.
The book was entertaining, but a little more vulgar than I was expecting (although I have to say, that definitely made it feel more realistic, since I remember how kids talked when I was in high school!). Also, because Jessica was so mopy and depressed at times, I felt like this book was a bit of a downer (not that I can blame Jessica for feeling the way she did).
A lot of this book really did remind me of high school, and is probably a more accurate depiction than any other similar book I’ve read. The Clueless Crew made me laugh, but their antics definitely reminded me of people I went to school with.
While Jessica’s sarcasm and sense of humour was endearing, she was also so frustrating! There were so many times that I wanted to yell at her and stop her from what she was doing (getting drunk on the beach, snapping at her mom and sister, etc.).
I could identify with a lot of aspects of Jessica’s personality, though, like overthinking pretty much everything, and feeling a bit like a social-life outsider. I think that’s what kept me reading, and what will keep me reading the rest of this series. While she isn’t the most likeable girl at times, Jessica Darling feels like a very real girl, and I feel this need to know what happens to her next!