Second Helpings

Posted August 2, 2012 by Tara in Challenges /// 4 Comments

I’m glad she shaved her legs.

Second Helpings
by Megan McCafferty
E-book from Public Library
[#54 in my 75 book challenge]

(warning…this reviews contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts. If you haven’t read this series, hop over to this post to read my review of the first Jessica Darling novel!)

After the lip-nip heard round the world and the discussion that followed, Jessica Darling has eliminated Marcus Flutie from her life. He is now known as “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” In this second installment of the Jessica Darling Quintet, Jessica takes us through the summer after Jessica’s junior year to graduation, and Jessica is just as confused as ever. She starts out at SPECIAL, a summer program for gifted kids, and then navigates senior year with a smidge more maturity than she’s show in the past.

While she’s deciding which colleges to apply to (Columbia keeps calling her name…), trying to date boys who AREN’T Marcus Flutie, and hanging out with her grandmother at the retirement community, Jessica is also OBSESSING over her virginity. This girl is on a mission. To be honest, I kind of liked that. Yes, the obsession was a little weird, but it showcased an attitude of girls taking charge of their own sexuality. Jessica doesn’t fixate on the fantasy that some guy is going to whisk her away in a romantic cloud of beautiful love…she just wants to do it. It’s a take on teenage sexuality that isn’t present in a lot of teen chick-lit. Thumbs up to Megan McCafferty for that.

It should be noted that this quintet was originally supposed to end with this book, so things wrap up quite nicely in the final pages. I’ve already read Charmed Thirds, and I understand why some people would warn readers to stop with the second installment. You could definitely read books one and two, call it day, and move on with your life. But by the end of this book I found myself still wanting to know what life holds for the next chapter of Jessica Darling’s life. I’m invested in her, and I think I’ll see her story through to the end.

Quotes from Jessica Darling

“I don’t even like babies. I have a very low tolerance for people who sit in their own defecation.”

“I will not get obsessed with anyone who is less than perfect for me. This mandate pretty much guarantees that my hymen will continue to stay intact, so airtight that it could be used as a floatation device in case of emergency.”

FINAL GRADE:   B   Giving this one a solid B. It’s a great book, and part of a five-book arc that may be greater than the sum of its parts. I like watching characters mature, and sometimes the individual books are (necessary) stepping stones in that journey. Jessica Darling is the smart girl’s hero! Like Sloppy Firsts, I would recommend this book for a high school library rather than a middle school library, and would definitely recommend it to my friends looking for a smart, romantic summer read. It’s probably not going to end up on my top 10 at the end of the year (my criteria for giving an A), but it’s among the best books for sure.

Do you think McCafferty should have quit after this book?


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , /// 4 Comments

4 responses to “Second Helpings

  1. I love Jessica Darling and also feel pretty invested to see her through to the end. I have only read the series through Fourth Comings so far, but I’m happy that McCafferty didn’t stop with Second Helpings. Jessica is one of those characters that I really root for, even when she’s not being particularly likeable or even when she makes choices I disagree with. I have to give a lot of credit for McCafferty for creating a character who comes of age in a pretty realistic manner with a lot of ups and downs.

  2. I agree, I found it grating that Jessica was so obsessed with her virginity, but at the same time, it’s so pleasant to see a young woman so in control of her sexuality. I love that she wants it to matter even though she doesn’t have any false expectations about knights in shining armor. I get all angsty again just reading this review!

Leave a Reply