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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Second Helpings

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Second Helpings

Second Helpings
Jessica Darling, Book 2

Author: Megan McCafferty
Pages: 357
Publisher: Broadway
Source: Library

Description from Goodreads:
“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.

Prior Books in Series:
1: Sloppy Firsts (Review|Goodreads)

First Sentence: "Hope, by the time you get this, I will already be attending the Summer Pre-College Enrichment Curriculum in Artistic Learning."

I will do my best to refrain my flailing and fangirling in this review, but it's going to be really difficult, because this series gives me so many feels. SO. MANY. FEELS. Seriously, if you like contemporaries at all and are not easily offended, then you really need to read the Jessica Darling series posthaste. Second Helpings follows Jessica through her senior year of high school, and had me even more on the edge of my seat than the first one.

As I mentioned in my review for Sloppy Firsts, I love Jessica. She is so well-characterized that I feel like I know her up and down. I can tell you her strengths, her weaknesses, and how she fails to see herself properly, as most people do in high school. Jessica grows up a lot in this book, learning to go for what she really wants and to see herself more objectively. In Sloppy Firsts, Jessica did a lot of things to please others, but now she's focused on herself.

One thing (out of many) that I love about this series is that it's so obvious that Jessica doesn't know what she wants. Though, from my perspective, I can tell the right choice from the wrong one, I know Jessica so well that I understand when she missteps. She works out her difficulties in her journal, rehashing them over and over again, trying to process her feelings, particularly about boys. Relationships are confusing, and it can be really difficult to tell how you actually feel about someone, especially if they're also your friend. McCafferty shows that all teen relationships don't last forever, and that romance isn't easy or found at first sight.

In my previous review, I mentioned that I was still a bit unsure about Marcus Flutie. Let the record show that I am no longer unsure. Before I got too far into Second Helpings, I was shipping Jessica and Marcus something fierce. Basically, in book one, he didn't really overcome his sketchy past enough to be someone I could really endorse as a hero, but, by now, he's made good, now using his talents for good rather than substance abuse. He and Jessica have such a strong mental connection, and chemistry like whoa. Also, it's hilarious how, for two forthright, honest people, they have a huge amount of trouble admitting their feelings for one another.

Though I've decided not to rate down for this because I just loved this book so much, this edition had a surprising number of typos. Also, that ending was mean. Just mean. I am very afraid that I will not like the next book, mostly because I have no idea what will happen and I have nerves just thinking about all the bad, but realistic, decisions I will need to watch Jessica make. MAKE GOOD CHOICES, JESSICA.

To reiterate, you should probably be reading this series. Do it. So you can flail with me. Please?

Rating: 5/5

Favorite Quote: "I was going to say how this is easy for him to believe because he is a romantic.  was going to point out how I am a realist. Actually, how I am a defensive pessimist. I always assume the worst, so if the reality is even a wee bit better than my disaster scenario, it's a cause for celebration."

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Blogger Kelsey said...

I adored this book! This series is so much fun and the characters are some of my favorites. Glad you're enjoying it! Great review :)

January 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Blythe Harris said...

I'm thinking I need to start this series pretty soon. I think my friend Keertana likes it quite a bit, too, and if you give it five stars I definitely have to give it a shot. I'm glad you love Jessica so much, too! She definitely sounds like my type of character - and I think I heard somewhere that she's incredibly witty, so I'm in. And Marcus Flutie... I've definitely read that name somewhere before. It rings a bell...

January 27, 2013 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger @MelissaJoLynn_ said...

I love this series! It was one of the first books that got me into YA. Jessica is hilarious and Marcus is so unique. I'm excited to hear what you think of the rest of the series. Enjoy!

January 27, 2013 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Flannery (The Readventurer) said...

I get the biggest smile on when I see someone reading this series. Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie? It doesn't get much better in YA books:) Similar to the commenter above me, this series is what got me into YA books at all--I read the first few when they came out. (never got around to the last 2, though I hear that's not a bad thing) Will you keep going?

January 28, 2013 at 1:14 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yes, I am. I've heard some worrisome things about the later books, but so far I LOVE it.

January 28, 2013 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Jessica does throw around terms like hobag, so if that would bother you, then you might have to have words with her, but other than that I think you would surely love her. Marcus Flutie's pretty popular with people who have read it. He does have a great character arc.

January 28, 2013 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yay! I really hope the next three can stay strong. :/

January 28, 2013 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

They are so completely amazing! I will keep going, though I am somewhat tempted to let it stay here and perfect. I hate reading about people fucking up their relationships doing stupid things and I know that's what's coming...

January 28, 2013 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Ok I saw so many feels and 5 stars and I need to get this series now! I think I will totally love it. I'll be sure to let my husband know it was another of your recommendations! lol

January 28, 2013 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Gah! I think you will love it. Your husband might not. :-p

January 28, 2013 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This series has caught my attention for some time so I'm glad this book is great and has such a high rating from you! I can't wait to read it, great review :)

Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

January 28, 2013 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You definitely should! I don't give out five star ratings lightly!

January 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Second Helpings is definitely my fave of the three J. Darling books I have read (hoping to finish the series by this summer!) I love how Jessica developed as a character. She was great in Sloppy Firsts, but OH, the ANGST! Not that she still isn't angsty in Bk #2 (or Bk #3) but it did tone down some as she's matured.

But really, if I am being truthful, Marcus Flutie MADE this book for me. So. Freaking. Romantic.

Prepare yourself. Most people don't like Charmed Thirds as much as Second Helpings (I'm in that category.) But I hear Bk #4 is better and that Bk #5 is AMAZING :)

Enjoyed reading your review and remembering how much I loved this book:)

January 28, 2013 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh man, I was so afraid that would happen in Charmed Thirds. Dang it! I'm still going to forge ahead, but WHY.

Also, Marcus Flutie is great, even if he doesn't always act in a logical manner, even though he thinks he is. :-p

January 28, 2013 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

FANGIRLING FOR JESSICA DARLING AND MARCUS FLUTIE IS PERMITTED! Seriously, it is. I totally know what you mean about all the feelings in this book, and being able to relate to Jessica and understand even when she misteps. She's just so real! I think that Marcus WANTED to be open with her about how he felt, but knew that she wasn't ready to believe him and was still worried he was his old self. Gah...this series stresses me out so much, but I love it. I actually haven't read past this one, but probably will someday.

January 30, 2013 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

YES EXACTLY THIS! This series is so freaking stressful, because they should be together but they're not and then she makes so many bad decisions, and you're watching with all your knowledge and you can't help her!

Marcus is amazing. I'm going to read the rest, but I'm just so afraid it will get less good, specifically in the next book, because things ended pretty happily here and I know more stress is coming!

January 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM  

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