Friday, November 14, 2014

Mini Review: Sloppy Firsts

“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.
Why did I have to be so late to this party? Sigh. This book, or rather this series, has been on my radar for years now. I'd say probably since I first started scoping out the blogosphere where I found it popping up on so many different bloggers' favorite lists. And yet I never got it. The Jessica Darling books were always one of those series that consistently had a place on my wishlist but never actually made it into my cart despite all of the hype. Until I found the first four books for sale at my library for a little over a dollar.

The only consoling detail here is the fact that prior to that when I had first put them on my wishlist I was probably a bit out of their age range. Slightly consoling but not really. And what I mean by that is had I stumbled upon this series while I was in middle school, or better yet high school, it would have been a favorite of mine hands down even amongst all of the fantasy that I was devouring at the time. Even now I clearly see the connections between Jessica and I and I love the quest she's embarking on, whether she knows it or not, to find herself. What high school girl wouldn't be attatched to a storyline like that?

Despite the fact that I'm no longer the same age as Jessica in this particular book, nor have I been for awhile, I found myself really enjoying it. I empathized with her. I smiled, I laughed, I sighed...I can't say I cried, because I didn't, but I felt her pain and could relate to it. Been there, done that type of thing, you know? I just really appreciated her character and the way that she sees things, partially because, probably, I'm still seeing some of those things in the same way. [It's always so much easier to recognize these things through book characters rather than critically analyzing yourself!] So needless to say, I liked her. I liked the other characters. I liked the storyline. I liked how real it felt even when it was being a little over the top. Sloppy Firsts is just a solid contemporary; a great start to a series that makes me curious as to where Jessica Darling will go next. [Thankfully I have the next three books on hand!] I'm not saying I'm going to race to pick up the next, though I might since it's on hand and I'd much rather spend time with Jessica than work on my seminar paper, but it's a solid contender for my next read.


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