Book review: ‘Second Helpings’ by Megan McCafferty

Second Helpings I. Am. Addicted. To. These. Books.

I’m serious. It’s bad. It’s Twilight-level bad — to the point that I’m stopping friends at the bookstore where I worked and shoving a copy into their hands. It’s… embarrassing. And taking over my life.

But I just can’t quit it.

Here’s the nice, tidy description from Amazon — a synopsis much more succinct than anything I could come up with:

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.

We open Second Helpings to discover that in a fit of self-loathing, high school senior Jessica has destroyed the diary which stood as a shrine to her obsession with one Marcus Flutie — the text of Sloppy Firsts. After their non-relationship came to a very abrupt end on New Year’s Eve at the end of the first novel, I wasn’t quite sure where we would find Jess and Marcus at the onset of this installment . . . and we found them nowhere, really. As Jess is away for the summer at a creative writing camp and ardently refusing to think and/or talk about Marcus as anyone other than He Who Shall Not Be Named (whoa, Lord Voldemort?), we run through the summer with Jessica and Call Me Chantelle, Jess’s promiscuous and vapid bunkmate.

Then school starts up again. Jessica is grappling with her classmates taking the SATs, applying to colleges and worrying about AP tests — but she stands apart from all of that, so secure in her own intelligence and abilities that school just seems to be . . . whatever. In any other character, this would really irk me — but we know, as readers, that Jessica isn’t like all the other seniors. So I was willing to accept that fact that we wouldn’t be reading about her studying long hours or panicking about biology tests. She’s the certified Class Braniac, right?

And she’s also the Class Loudmouth — known for her scathing editorials and loud opinions regarding the dense, clueless people with whom she shares a class. When an e-mail begins popping up in the inboxes of Pineville High’s seniors — aptly called Pinevile Low — everyone assumes she’s behind the embarrassing, supposedly secret gossip that’s now become fodder for everyone around her. But she isn’t. Isn’t she?

Add in the fact that Jessica now has her heart set on attending Columbia in New York City — recent site of the 9/11 terrorist attack — and the knowledge that her parents will never, ever want her to attend, especially when she’s been offered scholarships to a bevy of other schools, and Jess is ready to panic.

Oh, yeah. And Marcus Flutie, the semi-reformed (but still nonconformist) bad boy she was thisclose to just flat-out falling into crazed love with is now trying to hook her up with his best friend (and fellow Class Brainiac) Len Levy.

I know, it’s a lot going on. Definitely a lot. But I can tell you that I tore through this book as though I had seconds to live — and I had to make peace with the Marcus-and-Jess situation before it was too late. I was far from disappointed! Megan McCafferty’s books are funny, poignant, realistic and just . . . good. Really, really good. I wasn’t psyched about the conclusion of Sloppy Firsts but I didn’t mention it, knowing that I had Second Helpings right behind it. You could probably end the series right after this novel and feel satisfied, but I love knowing that the saga continues as Jessica goes off to college. Which one, you ask? Well, if you haphazardly check out the synopsises like I did, all will be revealed quite quickly. So don’t do that. I say run to the store, grab books one and two, devour them in a day or two — and shoot back over to tell me what you think.

And then you’ll be like me — running to Borders at 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, sweaty coupon in hand, looking around like a crazed beast for Charmed Thirds, the next installment in this addictive series. I’ll probably just go ahead and get the fourth one the next time I’m out, too. If I’m stuck on a plane next week — and hanging in the balance between Marcus and Jess’s complicated, exhilarating relationship — I’ll be one unhappy Meg.

5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0609807900 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website

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7 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Second Helpings’ by Megan McCafferty

  1. *eee* SQUEAL! I’m in love with your review, as a sideshoot of being in love with Megan and her books. Can’t wait until you equally devour the other books! (Or at least I hope. I know some people have not been very happy with the later books..*sigh* but I think you are a true fan!)

  2. Okay, I’ve fallen under the McCafferty spell. I LOVED the second book and literally tore through it today (even in class!) I am now in love with Marcus (I’m pretty sure I had a dream about him last night) and I can’t wait until the third one gets to my library! 🙂

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