It’s the nature of book blogging to focus mainly on new releases, but there are thousands of great books out there that haven’t seen the “New Releases” shelf in years. We hope to be able to bring attention to some older titles that may not be at the top of the current bestseller list, but still deserve a spot in your To-Be-Read pile.
This week’s oldie-but-goodie is one I’ve mentioned several times in the last few weeks:
“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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This book is part of Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series. I’ve heard SO much about it, mainly from the wonderful ladies at Forever Young Adult and Hello Giggles. After reading their review for the second time, I realized I should stop getting spoilers and actually find out what all the fuss was about.
You guys, this book does NOT disappoint. If you haven’t read it, and you’re an avid book blogger, this should be essential reading. I would even go so far as to call it one of the best high school novels I’ve ever read. Because I can’t even call this just YA – yes, it has a high-school aged protagonist, and yes, it’s about her trials and tribulations growing up, but really, this is a book for anyone who’s ever looked back on high school and had troubles. This is a book for adults (it was actually originally published as an adult book) who want to remember the pain and passion of high school. It’s in the vein of Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld or Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I would call Sloppy Firsts the “My So-Called Life” of books – it’s that smart, authentic, and insightful about what makes high school the charming and horrible place that it is.
So, synopsis. Jessica Darling is the smartest girl in school – she’s brilliantly clever and sarcastic, top of her class, and the fastest track team runner. But her best friend, Hope, has just moved away from Pineville, New Jersey, and Jessica is deeply upset and depressed because no one else in town really understood her. That depression and frustration leads her to start writing in a diary late at night because she can’t sleep and can’t talk to anyone else. To add insult to injury, her period has stopped coming, her sister’s wedding is driving everyone in her house bonkers, her dad is constantly on her case to be the best on her track team (which she is, and which she hates), and her mom and sister don’t understand her at all. So basically, Jessica is a mess. We get the privilege of following her through one year of mess, and seeing her trip and fall through adolescence.
Can I talk for a second about the writing? Jessica’s diary is friggin’ GOLD. She’s hilarious and savvy, and reading her thoughts is AMAZING. The book is written fully in first-person diary entries, and while I totally admit to being turned off by this at the beginning, I now confess to being COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY WRONG. The only way this book could have been written is through the diary entries. Every line is witty and awesome and straight from the mind of the brilliant Jessica.
Jessica is one of the most honest and authentic teen characters I’ve ever read. She’s a total bitch sometimes, a grump, and generally moody, but I can’t help but identify with her. I’m pretty sure I was like that at 16 as well. She’s totally aware of her own hypocrisy – she hates her friends, the Clueless Crew, but she recognizes that she needs to have them around to avoid social suicide. She knows that she has no chance with Paul Parlipiano, her senior-guy crush, but admits that she doesn’t even really know him. And she knows that “dreg” Marcus Flutie is totally not good for her, but she can’t help but be drawn to him.
Basically, Jessica is a study in contradiction. And that makes her SO interesting to read about. And (forgive me while I swoon) MARCUS FLUTIE! All through the book, you get these amazing glimpses into who he is, and then Megan McCafferty blows you away with the final part of the book, where Marcus really comes into being, and he’s more delightful and REAL than any other YA boy.
Also, he’s a poet. A really good poet. *SWOON*
If you’re looking for a really, REALLY great read, you should definitely check out Sloppy Firsts. You won’t be disappointed. And if you’ve read Sloppy Firsts, you’ll probably need to check out Second Helpings, then Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths. I’m on the second book right now, and I’m completely enamoured of Jess and Marcus!
My rating: 5/5 starsWhat books are on your Throwback Thursday this week?