July 18, 2013

Review: Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Second Helpings (Jessica Darling #2)
Author: Megan McCafferty
Release Date: April 22nd, 2003
Publisher: Broadway Books
Page Count: 357
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: The best kind of old YA DramaCity there is. Plus a little Flutie Fever.
“Knowing that I’ve just done something that will take decades off my parents’ lives with worry, you’ll excuse me for not getting into the fa-la-la-la-la Yuletide spirit this year... The only difference between Christmas 2001 and Christmas 2000 is that I don’t have a visit from Hope to look forward to. And Bethany has already packed on some major fetal flab. Oh, and now Gladdie doesn’t need to ask a bizillion questions about my boyfriend, because she’s already gotten the dirt from you know who.”

Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household. 

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today’s fast-moving and sophisticated teens. Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess’s life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep program and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie. But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some: Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis? Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life? Will Hope ever come back to Pineville? Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Jessica Darling and back and up to her old tricks. And when I say old tricks, I mean hellooooo DramaCity. But, like, would we want it any other way?

Let's break this down:

This book picks up no where near where the last book ended. I mean, it was winter break when the last book ended and now, suddenly, it's the start of summer. But, the way I understand it, all we missed was a lot of complaining about Marcus, and we definitely get more than enough of that at the start of book two (even though Jessica refuses to mention his name for the a solid chunk at the beginning).

ANYWAY. I think I should just say it now: I freaking loved the second installment of this series. I love how so many of this characters and themes developed in book one carry into book two. I mean, Paul Parlipiano makes a reappearance and steps down from the pedestal Jessica put him on and into real life. We also get to see more of Miss Hyacinth Anastasia Wallace and how her perceptions of Jessica war with Jessica's perceptions of herself. We also get more from Sara, Manda and Bridget - although Bridget is the only one of them worth mentioning. And y'know what, I LOVE that Bridget's become a character worth mentioning. She was on the verge of becoming a character worth mentioned last book, but she's really come into her own this book. Along with Percy (AKA Pepe).

I also really loved the whole Len/Marcus plot point. Was I VERY ANGRY at Marcus the whole book? Yes. Did the ending of the book make me less mad at him? I guess - although I think Jessica should have given him a harder time. But do I ultimately understand Flutie Fever? Hell yeah. He's patient and kind and understanding. I think we all kind of knew he was capable of such awesomeness, but considering he was a total burn out in the last book, it's all pretty impressive.

But like, it doesn't matter how mad I was at Marcus throughout the book. Because nothing compares to my anger towards Len. I mean, what is UP with Manda? It's like ruining relationships is her bread and butter. Or at the very least a favorite hobby. Is she a career homewrecker? I don't know. But I do know that girl is getting no where near any boyfriend I ever have.

Okay. MAYBE that was a little spoiler-y, but seriously, why would you ever want Jessica with Len? Obviously her end game is Tutti Flutie and no one else.

(It's also worth mentioning the Jessica's grandmother, Gladdie, is the best character in this book and UGH. Just UGH. She really did so much for Jessica - and not just in terms of her relationships. Seriously. Best Grandma Ever.)

Another reason I loved this book so much is because of the prose. In book, the prose was a little heavy handed, but since these books are written in first person, it makes sense because Jessica is so young (young relative to the series, that is). But in book two you can totally see how much Jessica's grown up by the maturing prose.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Jessica's stories take us where they want to. You can't predict it, you can only love the crazy shenanigan adventures she takes you on.
World Building: Yeah. This is what high school looks like. And college too, for the most part. I don't miss either so much.
Character Development: I love Jessica's growth. I also love that she's finally able to let Marcus off the hook - even if I couldn't. Wait. Does this mean a fictional character's more emotionally mature than I am even though she's fictionally 5 years young? *sigh*
Prose: Matures along with Jessica in the best way possible.
Would I Recommend This Book?: I'm really enjoying the series and I especially loved book two. However, I think book one is very much for the lover of older YA books. If you don't like the older YA book feel, book two might sit better with you, but I'd still recommend book one to get you started - reading the first one really helps you appreciate Jessica's growth. And it's pretty embarrassing/funny.

Do you ALSO have Flutie Fever? Or maybe you just love Jessica the way I love Jessica. Be sure to tell me all about your Darling Emotions in the comments below!


  1. I thought that Second Helpings was a wonderful continuation of Jessica Darling's story. As you mentioned that Jessica does mature a bit in this book, I think that Marcus does as well. So I ended up not being too upset with him by the end because he really cares about her and the whole You, Yes, You thing is adorable. I literally just finished reading Charmed Thirds, which I didn't was as strong as the first two. But hopefully the fourth and fifth books get stronger again!

  2. This is totally one of the best books ever. I was so mad at Marcus too, and I totally would have made him suffer more, but he was also being young and stupid, for all that he's a genius. However, yeah.

    Tutti Flutie! BAHAHAHAHA *rolls on the floor kicking legs in the air*

    ALSO, I decided not to read any more of the series, because I just can't bear to watch Jessica and Marcus on again off again. I'll hate them by the end, I know it. So I pretend this is the end.


Hey there! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment. Also, if you have a blog, be sure to leave a link so I can go check it out!